Professor Kristian Lasslett and Dr Dawid Stanczak1
With a strong body of international principles informing responsible asset
return, this paper applies these benchmarks in order to evaluate how
effectively the Government of Uzbekistan has managed domestic assets seized
from Gulnara Karimova and her close associates. The full report on which this
paper is based can be obtained from uzinvestigations.org
International asset return is a critical tool in the global fight against corruption. It aims to
deter kleptocrats and criminals from using foreign jurisdictions as safe havens to
warehouse the proceeds of crime, whilst also offering restitution to victim populations.
Yet the international repatriation of stolen assets can itself be a challenging task when
the victim nation’s government remains affected by high levels of corruption.
To manage the associated risks, and to ensure repatriated assets benefit the public
harmed by corruption, a growing body of international benchmarks have been developed
to facilitate responsible asset return. They have been encapsulated in the Principles for
Disposition and Transfer of Confiscated Stolen Assets in Corruption Cases (“GFAR
principles”) developed by the multilateral Global Forum on Asset Recovery.
The GFAR principles require that parties involved in asset return adhere to high
standards with regards to transparency and accountability (Principle 4); as well as civic
inclusion (Principle 10). They also recommended that returned assets be applied in ways
1 Kristian Lasslett is Professor of Criminology at Ulster University and a Co-Director at UzInvestigations.
He sits on the board of the International State Crime Initiative. Dr Dawid Stanczak is Lecturer in
Criminology at Ulster University. He is also a researcher at UzInvestigations.
which help repair the harm caused by corruption, whilst also guarding against
reoccurrence (Principle 6).
Put simply, the processes involved in the return of repatriated assets ought to be totally
transparent. Those state and non-state organisations managing the returned assets must
be fully accountable to the public. Where possible, returned assets ought to repair harm
and support anti-corruption initiatives. And finally, it is critical that the public’s voice in
victim nations is front and centre when it comes to deciding how repatriated assets are
to be used.