Christian Lange (left), Secretary of State at the BMJV, at the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery in Hammamet, Tunisia (photo: BMJV)Christian Lange (left), Secretary of State at the BMJV, at the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery in Hammamet, Tunisia (photo: BMJV)

The fourth international Arab Forum on Asset Recovery (AFAR) was held in Hammamet (Tunisia) from 8 to 10 December 2015. The IRZ was one of the organisers of this event.

The AFAR was set up as part of a G7 initiative in partnership with Arab Countries in Transition. The objective is to support Arab countries in their efforts to recover assets, which were stolen or misappropriated from former Arab regimes.

Two special sessions are held annually to deal with technical issues concerning the identification and recovery of assets from abroad. The results of these special sessions collected by leading specialists are integrated in a high-level annual conference, during which international efforts at minister and senior official level are followed up and important momentum is generated to continue with the process.

Having already been appointed by and worked closely with the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) and the German Foreign Office to organise one of these special sessions in Tunis in May, the IRZ then became involved as a co-organiser together with Tunisia and Qatar to prepare for and put on the annual conference.

This year's event was held under Germany's presidency of the G7. Germany was represented at the conference by the parliamentary Secretary of State at the BMJV, Christian Lange (MdB). Also present were the Minister of Justice for Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia and the Prosecutor General for Qatar. In addition to the countries named above, delegations and speakers also attended from Germany, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Senegal, Saudi Arabia and the USA, the latter represented by the FBI and the State Department. The World Bank's "Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative" (StAR) was also closely involved. Representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were also invited and took an active and critical part in the discussions.

The conference included a political section, during which the attending ministers stressed their continued support for the process and their awareness that the significant amount of misappropriated assets should be used to support the development of the countries concerned, instead of remaining in the hands of white collar criminals.

There were also many discussions on a bilateral level, in which delegations from the various countries made the most of the opportunity to discuss actual cases and remaining barriers to cooperation.