With the Hudson Institute's Kleptocracy Initiative, I looked through the U.S.'s history of asset recovery - and where anti-kleptocratic efforts may be heading:
Given the growing retinue of targets and assets alike, it appears the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative stands not only as one of the U.S.’s foremost attempt at combatting rising kleptocracy, but one of Washington’s most prominent successes. Moreover, from targeting hundreds of millions of dollars tied to Uzbekistan’s former first daughter to over $1 billion in assets allegedly embezzled from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund – the most substantial related case to date – the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative has only expanded its writ over the past few years.
And as the DSP, Abacha, and Malaysian cases have illustrated, the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative appears to have hit on a method for working around kleptocrats’ penchant for holing up in their home countries whenever allegations of kleptocracy crop up. Rather than pursuing criminal cases outright, the Open Society Justice Initiative’s Shirley Pouget and Ken Hurwitz noted that the types of civil forfeiture cases – such as the one related to the settlement that forced Equatorial Guinea’s vice president to part with his Malibu mansion, for instance – “offer three particular advantages: they can be pursued even when the alleged perpetrator of the underlying crimes is i) beyond U.S. jurisdiction, ii) enjoys immunity as a high-level official, or iii) is deceased. The stolen wealth can still be seized and returned to benefit the populations whose property it rightly is.” Added The FCPA Blog’s Martin Kenney, the “Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is now paying dividends. Any government initiative to undermine embezzlement, corruption, and bribery deserves credit.”