With a tip of the hat to Intelligence Online Issue No. 598 (16-29 July 2009), we are delighted to note that the World Bank's Department of Institutional Integrity (INT) is creating a special new investigative unit to focus exclusively on identifying and facilitating the recovering of assets stolen by politicians in the emerging countries, i.e. Africa and Central Asia as well as select countries in South Asia and Latin America.
According to Intelligence Online, the one newsletter that is essential to those following the world of intelligence, the new unit will be partly financed by USD $100 million paid by Siemens on 2 July 2009 to avoid legal proceedings in connection with its payment of briber to Russian officials administering a World Bank contract awared.
Intelligence Online goes on to discuss the United Nations “Stolen Asset Recovery” initiative (STAR), which did not do investigations itself, but provided limited financiing for legal or private investigative probes.
Intelligence Online notes that Nigeria and Kenya had no difficulty finding the money stolen by Sani Abacha and David Arap Moi, but had to go to considerable lengths to force the banks to release the funds. The World Bank's unit is evidently intended to make it easier to obtain and submit legal evidence that will compell banks to release the funds.
As we learned in Africa Unchained (see review), $148 billion is believed to have been stolen by various despots from Africa alone. We speculate that a global Information Operations (IO) campaign to recover that money could be the fastest, cheapest, best means of helping Africa help herself.