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Russia may recover $200 bln in stolen assets

History

The UN and World Bank Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) initiative may enable Russia to recover up to $200 billion in stolen assets, a high-ranking Russian diplomat said Wednesday.

The initiative, aimed at recovering billions of dollars of public money stolen from developing countries every year by corrupt leaders and officials, was launched Monday. “There is no official data as to the amount of ill-gotten gains that have been taken out of Russia. But according to expert estimates for 2002, the figure is around $200 billion. Therefore, the new initiative is highly relevant for us,” said Ilya Rogachev, deputy permanent representative to the UN.

World Bank chief Robert Zoellick told RIA Novosti that the new initiative is aimed at the poorest African countries, not Russia, and that he could not estimate the outflow of “corrupt money” from Russia. But Rogachev said that “the largest ‘money laundries’ in the world are, in effect, developed countries,” adding that the initiative, based on the UN Convention against Corruption, enables countries to "build up political muscle" and more effectively interact with states where stolen assets are stashed away.
He said Russia has much work to do to bring its national laws in line with the Convention. “Even if all stolen assets were returned to us, there is no provision in the budget that would permit us to use that money,” the official said. Zoellick said earlier that “there should be no safe haven for those who steal from the poor,” and that the initiative was a warning to corrupt leaders “that they will not escape the law. Many developing countries are hemorrhaging money desperately needed to try to support the attack against poverty,” he said. “By one estimate corrupt money flowing abroad from developing countries is estimated at $40 billion a year. That amount represents 40% of official development assistance.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the initiative, saying it “will foster much needed cooperation between developed and developing countries and between the public and private sectors to ensure that looted assets are returned to their rightful owners.” (rian.ru)

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