Bern, Press releases, 09.12.2015

In time for International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December, assets worth USD 115 million stolen from Kazakhstan in a corruption affair have been successfully and formally returned. In 2007 Switzerland, the USA and Kazakhstan established a joint foundation under Kazakh law, the BOTA Kazakh Child and Youth Development Foundation. The aim of this foundation was to use the returned money to the benefit of disadvantaged families and young people.

The BOTA foundation was set up as the result of close collaboration between the USA and Switzerland, who provided mutual international legal assistance in order to block and then return the assets deposited in Geneva. The BOTA foundation was supported by the three governments, the World Bank, and Save the Children and IREX, two international NGOs charged with implementing the programme. The foundation board comprised Kazakh NGOs, a Swiss and a US representative.

According to the World Bank's final report, the BOTA foundation achieved excellent results: for example, disadvantaged families and young people were able to benefit from social and health services and higher education grants. The original project goal was almost doubled: over six years of operation, BOTA vastly improved the lives of 208,000 Kazakhs, and built up local skills and expertise. An external evaluation by Oxford Policy Management (OPM) also concluded that the projects met a real need and that they had effectively supported the target group in a difficult context.
Restitution is an important cornerstone of Swiss policy on recovering illicit assets. Switzerland has returned about USD 1.8 billion, more than any other financial centre. Thanks to its innovative practices, it is even seen as a pioneer in this area. Switzerland's strategy includes preventing corruption in developing countries, keeping assets of criminal origin out of the Swiss financial centre, tracking down illicitly acquired funds and their restitution to the countries of origin.

The restitution of such assets is now also considered a valuable way of generating resources to fund the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, Switzerland successfully campaigned for the international community to commit to drawing up good practices for the restitution of stolen assets under the new framework for financing sustainable development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

Further information:

Restitution of illicitly acquired assets

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