Since the mid-1990s, the fight against corruption has become an integral part of the international development agenda. Along with the growing concern about corruption, the problem of assets stolen by public officials came to the fore of the agenda. This is evidenced by a steady increase in international agreements, such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions adopted in 1997, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) signed in 2003.

This paper looks at the use of proceeds of asset recovered from Sani Abacha, Vladimir Montesinos, and Ferdinand Marcos and their families. It will also briefly address a much more recent case involving Kazakhstan.

Repatriation of stolen monies makes available additional resources for development activities. The challenge is to ensure efficient, accountable and transparent use of such assets, given states may lack capacity or political will and that corruption may be prevalent at various levels of government.

In many countries, criminal investigations are primarily directed towards the investigation of the underlying criminality. It is still comparatively rare for investigators, as a routine part of the investigation of major proceeds-generating offences, to “follow the money”. To trace money and property successfully, the investigator must be equipped to uncover and identify ownership interests often camouflaged by changes in the form and nature of the ownership.