Asset recovery practitioners in the region need to collaborate across borders in the fight against corruption. This was highlighted during the project “Strengthening anti-corruption in South East Europe through improving asset seizure measures” implemented jointly by the AIRE Centre and the RAI Secretariat, funded by the UK Government.
Trainings, peer-to-peer visits and other opportunities for networking and exchange of experience have influenced the emergence of the project’s alumni network. Project national Coordinators had a pivotal role in maintaining contact with the practitioners in their respective jurisdictions in the Western Balkans jurisdictions, while practitioners from Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova and Romania were in contact with the RAI Secretariat.
Mid-way through the implementation of the project, the COVID-19 pandemic started, bringing about a pause to the project developments and in-person contacts among the practitioners previously connected through the project.
Nevertheless, the idea of the network and the need for connecting the asset recovery practitioners in the region grew, and the first dedicated encounter of the Regional Alumni Meeting took place in an online setting on December 15, 2020.
On this occasion, judges, prosecutors, and asset recovery practitioners from SEE who have participated and contributed to the project discussed the establishment of the Regional Alumni Network with the aim to foster and improve regional cooperation in asset recovery cases.
Among a number of potential benefits of the network, participants outlined the importance of the prospects of continual exchange of experiences in implementing the similar legislation in the region, improving cooperation in the exchange of information on asset tracing, as well as sharing good practice examples and facilitating replication of successes and good practices, not only in confiscation, but also in broader aspects related to asset confiscation.
With this meeting, the way for the establishment of the Regional Asset Recovery Network was paved. The network has set out to provide a platform for the practitioners who have participated in project events to further develop their professional and working relationships both at national and regional level. Further, the network has set out to encourage practitioners to assist each other in their daily work and exchange information and best practices, as well as to support the National Coordinators in their project work by providing information and feedback “from the field” on the development of asset recovery systems in the respective jurisdictions and the region. The network anticipated establishing a pool of experts – participants in the project events equipped to provide feedback on the national developments, and outstanding needs and identify key examples of asset recovery good practice.