African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) Supports Tunisia’s Bid to Recover Stolen Assets

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Written by Aristide Ahouassou

The African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) is helping the Tunisian Stolen Asset Recovery Committee to build capacity, following an agreement signed on 10 June 2011 during the Annual Meetings of the AfDB Group in Lisbon, Portugal.

The ALSF support will be in two areas:

  • To assist the Tunisian government to develop a legal framework for the recovery of stolen assets.
  • The Facility will mobilize over a million U.S. dollars of additional resources dedicated to litigation in different jurisdictions.

Stolen assets are believed to be located in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Austria, UK, USA, Canada, France, UAE, Qatar, Lebanon and Morocco, among others.

Following the events in Tunisia on 14 January 2011, the government submitted to the Facility an official request on 16 February 2011 for technical assistance in recovering stolen assets located abroad. Approved on 19 April 2011 by its Management Board, the Facility will provide Tunisia with a grant of up to USD 700,000 for capacity building and recruitment of an international law firm.

The Tunisian government, in turn, has established a stolen asset recovery committee (Comité national du recouvrement à l’étranger des biens mal acquis) by virtue of Decree No. 2011-15 of 26 March 2011. The Committee, whose members are representatives of different ministries, is chaired by the central bank Governor. This committee is responsible for coordinating and conducting procedures related to the recovery of misappropriated assets located abroad. The committee may, for this purpose and on behalf of the Republic of Tunisia, appear in any procedures to identify, seize and recover the stolen assets.

The Facility will provide the committee with technical and legal assistance to establish and develop the strategy for assets recovery abroad.

The Facility will not be a party to litigation to be initiated by Tunisia.