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Plundering the Treasure Chest: The Theft of Sovereign Wealth and Asset Recovery

Angela Barkhouse, John Louth and James Maton
Occasional Papers, 23 April 2012
Defence, Industries and Society, Sovereign Wealth
The recovery of looted wealth is increasingly a matter of international security. A coherent policy framework to deal with it is needed

The practice of sovereign wealth recovery and the battle against an insidiously corrupt political-criminal nexus present a significant international security issue for states. Yet this does not appear to be widely understood within the UK defence and security communities.

No guidance can be found within UK national defence doctrine highlighting the significance of this issue to commanders and planners. Moreover, the professionals working in the area of sovereign wealth recovery - the accountants, lawyers, private investigators and forces of law and order - appear to work in silos, ignorant of policy makers, military practitioners and often each other. 

What is needed is a coherent coalition to combat the threat posed by corrupt political elites and international crime; a coalition involving international and national courts, the law enforcement agencies, international financial regulators, professional bodies, practitioners, the military and, critically, national governments in partnership with each other.  A policy framework needs to be developed that clearly identifies the threat of corruption and sovereign wealth theft as major international security, stabilisation and reconstruction issues. 

This Occasional Paper makes the case for the development of coherent, integrated policies and practices to enable sovereign wealth recovery as a function of national security.

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