Approximately 20 – 40 billion US dollars are annually lost to developing countries as a result of bribery and corruption. Usually, this money is hidden in off shore financial centers, depriving these origin countries the opportunity to utilize such funds, for the benefit of the people. Countries are internationally bound to put mechanisms in place to combat corruption and to work collectively to fight illicit financial flows of this nature.
As signatory to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), Sri Lanka is responsible to cooperate in the international arena to combat the transfer of proceeds of crime and recover such proceeds. Sri Lanka reiterated this commitment in 2015 at the London Anti-Corruption Summit and the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) in 2017 pledging to prioritize the recovery of stolen assets.
In 2018, the Special Presidential Taskforce on Recovery of State Assets (START), the body appointed to coordinate Sri Lanka’s efforts on asset recovery, i.e. to investigate, identify, trace, seize and transfer to Sri Lanka assets stolen from Sri Lanka, convened a drafting committee to prepare a policy and legislative policy on proceeds of crime, involving different stakeholders. This framework was a product of that exercise and was completed by the end of 2018. It has been presented to the President for further action in order for this policy to be translated into legislation.