Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR)

Asset recovery remains an important priority for Switzerland, which plays a pioneering role. Strengthening the rule of law is one of 4 priority topics of the Strategy on International Cooperation 2021-2024. Demand for expertise on asset recovery remains high around the world. This contribution will support the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), a partnership between the World Bank Group and the United Nations that supports international efforts to recover stolen assets and to end safe havens for corrupt funds.

Country/region Topic Period Budget

Legal and judicial development
Anti-corruption organisations
Domestic revenue mobilisation
15.10.2021 - 30.06.2023
CHF  760’000

Illicit financial flows (IFFs) are discussed in all important international fora as they represent a challenge for development policy. The impact of IFFs and corruption are particularly damaging for developing countries which according to a World Bank study lose USD 20 to 40 billion every year through corrupt acts.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development (AAAA) stipulates that the return of stolen assets shall contribute to sustainable development.

The Agenda 2030 / SDG 16.4. aims at reducing illicit financial flows and strengthen asset recovery and return of stolen assets.

The recovery and return of stolen assets to their countries of origin is a key component to combatting corruption and illicit financial flows. Asset recovery includes all processes involved in the tracing, freezing, confiscating and returning of funds obtained through illegal activities. 


Contribute to the systematic and timely recovery and return of stolen assets to their countries of origin, by providing the facts, tools and know-how related to asset recovery and by facilitating the multilateral and bilateral cooperation of interested states and entities.

StAR intervenes through its three pillars of work: i) contributing to international standard setting and good practices on asset recovery and asset return (Policy Influencing); ii) supporting countries in their cases to retrieve their stolen assets (Country Engagement); and iii) effectively disseminating global experience, as well as StAR’s specific results (Knowledge Development and Communication) which are also of direct use for SDC.

Target groups

-   Multilateral agencies and fora, such as UNCAC / UNODC;

-   Countries requesting technical support: StAR is a demand-oriented initiative:     specific requests for country assistance must come from Governments.

-    Networks and its practitioners: StAR actively builds on networks of practitioners     (“Lausanne Process”; “Addis Process”; EGMONT group; CARIN Asset Recovery     Network- both governmental and non-governmental).

Medium-term outcomes

Domain Policy influencing:

-   Advocate for and contribute to intern. standards to address asset recovery     challenges

-   Connect practitioners on asset recovery

Domain Country Engagement:

-   Assist 10 to 20 countries to enact sound asset recovery laws and to set up     effective asset recovery institutions

-   Build capacity in countries to conduct asset recovery cases

-   Facilitate international cooperation on asset recovery

Domain Knowledge and Innovation

-   Collect and disseminate information on asset recovery efforts and cases

-    Analyze and advertise asset recovery trends and developments


Expected results:  

-    Case-related technical assistance delivered to at least 20 countries

-    Contributions delivered to the “Illicit Financial Flows” agenda, including link     with the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals

-    Substantive contribution to UNCAC 2nd cycle reviews on asset recovery     provided

-    Support provided / lessons learnt on the management of returned assets at     global and country levels.

-    Partnerships formalized with CSOs (Transparency International, Global     Witness, etc.)

-    Traffic to the StAR website, Twitter account, and StAR Blog increased

Results from previous phases:  

StAR has become one of the leading centers of competence on asset recovery globally, both with regard to legal assistance and to advocate for global standards on asset recovery. Advantages include legitimacy and leverage of two respected institutions (UNODC and the WBG), broad country engagements, highly professional knowledge products and respective contributions in multilateral fora.

StAR represents and remains an important value added for Switzerland, primarily thanks to its facilitation role in the multilateral sphere, where asset recovery remains highly disputed between low-income countries and financial centres.

Key results 2015 – 2020 achieved by StAR:

-    provided country-specific technical assistance to over 30 countries

-    assisted the adoption of 8 laws/amendments

-    facilitated asset recovery cases (Tanzania, Kyrgyz Republic; Ethiopia)

-    organized the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR, 2017)

-    published 8 knowledge products (freely available through the StAR website);        an additional four publications are currently under production

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Project partners Contract partner
International Financial Institution (IFI)
  • World Bank - International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
  • World Bank Group and UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Coordination with other projects and actors

Swiss level:

StAR works with the FDFA Directorate of International Law (on UN Convention Against Corruption; on the Lausanne Seminars) and SECO (Anti-Corruption; Anti Money-Laundering).

StAR collaborates closely and complements the International Center for Asset Recovery (ICAR) which is also supported by SDC.

International level:

StAR works closely with the Financial Action Task Force, with the OECD and with the UN system

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    760’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    360’000
Project phases Phase 2 15.10.2021 - 30.06.2023   (Current phase) Phase 1 16.12.2015 - 30.06.2022   (Completed)