|France supports full enforcement of the UNCAC asset recovery provisions, and commits to strengthen its asset recovery legislation, including through the developing of internationally endorsed guidelines for the transparent and accountable management of returned stolen assets.|
Themes: Asset recovery
Last updated: December 2020
Concrete: Somewhat Concrete | New: New | Ambitious: Ambitious
Restitution by France to Uzbekistan of assets illegally acquired by Gulnara Karimova: a missed opportunity
France’s New Asset Recovery Bill Is an Important Step Toward Achieving Victim Compensation
Law Proposal on Responsible Assets Repatriation
Creation of a Facility for Restitution of Ill Gotten Gains (p.60)
In July 2019, the Prime Minister commissioned two French MPs to assess the best options to repatriate confiscated stolen assets and proceeds of crime to their country of origin. At the end of November 2019, the MPs published their conclusions and recommended to set up a mechanism allowing for a transparent and accountable asset restitution mechanism. Various departments within the French government are currently working to set up a restitution mechanism, in line with the conclusions of the mission entrusted to parliamentarians.
In May 2020, French authorities repatriated EUR 10 million - corresponding to some G. Karimova’s of seized and confiscated real properties in France - to the Government of Uzbekistan. This repatriation is a result of a Court’s decision rendered in 2019. On July 9th 2019, a French Court reached a final decision in G. Karimova’s case by approving a ‘comparution avec reconnaissance préalable de culpabilité’, a sort of French guilty plea concluded between the Public Prosecutor and three French companies that recognized having acted in the name of and on behalf of G. Karimova. Having been granted the status of civil party, the Government of Uzbekistan was recognized as a victim and compensated in the amount of more than EUR 60 million (EUR 60.285.000,000).
This decision is compliant with the UNCAC Art.53.b that requires each state party to take such measures as may be necessary to permit its courts to order those who have committed offences established in accordance with this Convention to pay compensation or damages to another State Party that has been harmed by such offences.
It is, however, worth noting that the Public Prosecutor’s decision to settle this grand corruption case through a guilty procedure that takes place behind closed doors rather than a public trial resulted in a rapid outcome of the case. Whereas the reform for responsible assets repatriation was still being pending, such a decision led French authorities to repatriate illicitly acquired confiscated assets to a foreign country outside of a structured specific legal framework and without any guarantee of transparency and accountability
Updated: October 31, 2020
The French government committed to passing the asset recovery bill by the end of 2019, yet the bill is with Assemblée nationale since May 2019. Right after the adoption of this bill, the French government publicly committed to engage and support such a reform by tasking two MPs to explore the best legal and budgetary options to responsibly return stolen assets to their countries of origin. The MPs released a report on November 2019 in which they propose to task the French Agency for Development to manage the restitution process in a transparent and accountable manner. The government has still not implemented this proposal into a law.
Peer reviewer: 1
Updated: April 30, 2020
On May 2019, the French Senate adopted at first reading, almost unanimously, a law proposal on responsible assets repatriation. On June 2019, the French government mandated to MPs to lead a mission assessing the feasible legal and budgetary options to repatriate stolen assets in France. French government committed to passing a law allowing for responsible asset restitution before the end of the year 2019.019. Peer reviewer: Earlier this month, the French Senate agreed on a new asset forfeiture bill that would address this problem by amending existing law so that when a French court orders the forfeiture of the illicit assets of a foreign public official or other politically exposed person (PEP), those assets, rather than being forfeited to the State, would instead go into a special fund that seeks to improve living standards of victim populations, improve the rule of law, and fight against corruption in the country where the offenses took place. (The state would, however, be able to retain a portion of the assets, up to a specified limit, to cover the costs of bringing the case in the first place.) Under the proposed bill, assets would be forfeited to the French state only in those cases where it is “absolutely impossible” to return the assets to the victim populations.
Peer reviewer: 1
Updated: October 30, 2019