Archive for October, 2010

Ward & Ward Partner and Georgetown University Adjunct Professor of Law Mark Vlasic Honored by Devex as a “40 Under 40” Leader

October 6, 2010

Ward & Ward Partner and Georgetown University Adjunct Professor of Law Mark Vlasic has been honored by Devex and Chevron as a “40 Under 40” International Development Leader.

Ward & Ward Partner & Georgetown Professor Mark Vlasic
Honored by Devex and Chevron
as a “40 Under 40” Leader

List honors Washington-area young leaders in international development

October 5, 2010 Washington, D.C. — Mark Vlasic, an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University and partner at Ward & Ward PLLC, was named a D.C. “40 under 40” International Development Leader. The recognition, the first of its kind, was given to social entrepreneurs, advocates, private sector innovators and government and multilateral agency officials. Criteria included individual influence on the global development agenda and results achieved. Devex, the world’s largest community of aid and development professionals, and Chevron Corporation, a global energy company, announced the honor during the Business Civic Leadership Center’s annual conference.

“I am humbled to be associated with some of the most dynamic and innovative young leaders in America” said Mark Vlasic “I can only hope that I will live up to this honor in my teaching and legal practice.”

Mark V. Vlasic is a senior fellow at Georgetown’s Institute for Law, Science & Global Security, an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center, and a partner at Ward & Ward PLLC, where he heads the firm’s international practice. A former head of operations of the World Bank’s StAR Secretariat, Mark served as a White House Fellow, special assistant to the Secretary of Defense, and advisor to the President’s Special Envoy to Sudan, and was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service by Secretary Robert Gates. He has provided commentary to CNN, FOX, CBS and NPR, practiced law at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and served on the Slobodan Milosevic and Srebrenica genocide prosecution trial teams at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Mark received his B.S.B.A. and J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University, his Certificate in International Law from The Hague Academy, and conducted post-doctorate research at Universiteit Leiden as a NAF-Fulbright Scholar.

“A new generation of leaders in Washington, D.C. is changing the world – fighting poverty with technology and improving lives around the world with innovative approaches,” said Raj Kumar, president of Devex. “This initiative is about celebrating and supporting 40 of these inspiring young leaders who are shaking up global development and pushing our community forward.”

“Healthy businesses depend on healthy, vibrant communities,” said Gary Fisher, General Manager of Corporate Public Policy for Chevron. “Smart, strategic global partnerships, like those being fostered by the thought-leaders being honored, are a vital component of this. We applaud them, and we encourage others to follow suit.”

All honorees were recognized at a reception held at the Washington offices of McKinsey & Company on September 30, 2010. The complete list of the “40 under 40” International Development Leaders in Washington is as follows (in alphabetical order):

• Natasha Bajuk, Remittances Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank
• Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Administrator for Asia and Near East, USAID
• Eric Braverman, Principal, McKinsey & Company
• Michael A. Clemens, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development
• Jared Cohen, Director, Google Ideas
• Alexandra Marie Courtney, Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton
• Suzanne Ehlers, President and CEO, Population Action International
• Steve Feldstein, Professional Staff Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
• Jared Genser, Partner, DLA Piper LLP, and President, Freedom Now
• Corey Arnez Griffin, President and CEO, Global Government and Industry Partners
• Sherri G. Kraham, Managing Director, Cooperation & Policy Improvement, MCC
• Mark Lopes, Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID
• Noelle LuSane, Staff Director, House of Representatives
• Fiona Macaulay, President/Founder, Making Cents International
• Michael Madnick, Deputy Executive Director, GAIN
• David McKenzie, Senior Economist, World Bank
• Todd Moss, Vice President for Corporate Affairs and Senior Fellow, CDG
• Craig Mullaney, Senior Policy Advisor, USAID AfPak Task Force
• Alyse Nelson, CEO, Vital Voices
• Joshua Nesbit, Executive Director, FrontlineSMS:Medic
• Samantha Power, Director of Multilateral Affairs, National Security Council
• Ben Powell, Founder and Managing Partner, AGORA Partnerships
• Joshua Rogin, Reporter, Foreign Policy / Washington Post
• Alec Ross, Senior Adviser on Innovation, State Department
• Nilmini Rubin, Senior Professional Staff Member, Foreign Relations Committee
• Dan Runde, Schreyer Chair for Global Analysis, CSIS
• John S. Sargent III, President and Founding Partner, BroadReach Healthcare
• Rajiv Shah, Administrator, USAID
• Aaron Sherinian, Executive Director, Communications and Public Affairs, UNF
• Andrée Simon, President, Women for Women International
• Ian Solomon, US Executive Director, World Bank
• Ilana Solomon, Policy Analyst, ActionAid USA
• Andrew Stern, Global Operating Partner, Dalberg
• Erin Thornton, Global Policy Director, ONE
• Beth Tritter, Managing Director, The Glover Park Group
• Sebastian Troeng, Vice President for Global Marine, Conservation International
• Brendan Tuohey, Executive Director, PeacePlayers International
• Noam Unger, Fellow, Brookings Institution
• Mark Vlasic, Senior Fellow & Adjunct Professor of Law, Institute for Law, Science and Global Security, Georgetown University, and partner at Ward & Ward PLLC
• Wayan Vota, Senior Director, Inveneo###

About Devex
Devex is a social enterprise bringing efficiency to international development through recruiting and business information services. Our members find development projects, business and career advice, jobs – and professional connections – on Founded in 2000, Devex serves a global community of 500,000 development professionals and one thousand donors, companies, and NGOs. With a mission to bring greater efficiency to international development, our global staff of over 100 in five offices (Barcelona, London, Manila, Tokyo, and Washington, DC) works to provide innovative products and services to address the needs of each member of our development community. Development professionals or organizations working in the field of international development, humanitarian relief and global health, are invited to join us on

About Chevron
Chevron Corporation is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company’s success is driven by the ingenuity and commitment of approximately 62,000 employees who operate across the energy spectrum. Chevron explores for, produces and transports crude oil and natural gas; refines, markets and distributes transportation fuels and other energy products; manufactures and sells petrochemical products; generates power and produces geothermal energy; provides energy efficiency solutions; and develops the energy resources of the future, including biofuels and other renewables. Chevron is based in San Ramon, California.

Ward & Ward Partner and Georgetown University Adjunct Professor of Law Mark Vlasic Publishes Op-Ed in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune

October 6, 2010

Ward & Ward Partner and Georgetown University Adjunct Professor of Law Mark Vlasic publishes “Justice for Haiti, via the Swiss” – a New York Times and International Herald Tribune Op-Ed regarding the Swiss passage of the “Return of Illicit Assets Act” and the effort to recover stolen assets for the benefit of the Haitian people:

October 3, 2010
Justice for Haiti, via the Swiss

Twenty-four years after Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier left a champagne-filled party at his presidential palace and boarded a chartered jet to flee Haiti, leaving a chaotic and economically scarred nation behind, a democratically elected government in Haiti now has a chance to recover millions of dollars of stolen assets.

That is because on Friday, the Swiss Parliament passed the “Return of Illicit Assets Act” (R.I.A.A.), an innovative legislative fix to a decades-old problem that, if implemented properly, may give added life to World Bank President Robert Zoellick’s assertion that “there should be no safe haven for those who steal from the poor.”

Taking over as “president-for-life” after his father’s death, Baby Doc Duvalier’s rule was characterized by greed and domestic neglect, resulting in a paralysis of national development. A world-class kleptocrat, for 15 years Duvalier and his associates stole Haitian funds and international aid money while exploiting Haitians for the benefit of sugar companies. Stolen cash was allegedly used to pay for fast cars, shopping vacations, jewelry and posh properties in foreign hotspots.

Only when faced with the near-total breakdown of the Haitian state, rioting, and a potential coup d’état did Duvalier acknowledge that his days were numbered and flee the country. Since then, it has been left to Duvalier’s successors in Haiti and a handful of hard-working officials in Switzerland, aided by the joint World Bank-United Nations Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative, to try to recover the stolen assets for the benefit of the Haitian people.

Sadly, as we are reminded almost daily with reports of high-level corruption in Afghanistan and elsewhere, what happened in Haiti is not an isolated occurrence. According to World Bank estimates, corruption among holders of public office accounts for the misappropriation of between $20 and $40 billion each year. This corresponds to 20 to 40 percent of annual global development aid.

For this reason, there has been greater attention focused on combating grand corruption as a critical component in the fight against impunity — and thus a more concerted effort to track down and recover stolen assets. This was one of the reasons Mr. Zoellick made the StAR Initiative, a global partnership to help recover assets from past dictators, his first initiative after joining the World Bank.

With Switzerland’s landmark vote, the country that is traditionally associated with bank secrecy laws — which have been abused in the past to hide stolen assets — is poised to become an example of one of the most forward-leaning countries in the quest to return stolen assets to developing countries.

To be fair, Swiss efforts to return stolen assets are not new. According to Swiss reports, over the last 20 years the government has returned more than $1.5 billion in assets of criminal origin — including assets from some of the most famous kleptocrats in history such as Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and Carlos Salinas of Mexico. Despite these successes, however, asset recovery cases are not easy. They are governed by complex laws and international treaties, and as in the case of Duvalier, many languish for decades.

This is the reason why Switzerland developed R.I.A.A., which is designed for cases involving assets frozen in Switzerland which have been acquired unlawfully, but which cannot be returned via typical international mutual legal assistance channels due to failures in the victim state’s judicial system.

In such cases, where the country involved renders it impossible to conduct a proper exchange procedure, the new law would enable a unique “burden shift.” In these cases, should R.I.A.A. be implemented as envisioned, the Swiss government would only have to show that the funds held in Switzerland by an alleged corrupt official are significantly larger than what someone could have credibly earned in office, and that the country from which the funds originate was known to be corrupt.

Then the burden of proving that the money came from legal sources would lie with the allegedly corrupt official, rather than the Swiss state. If the official could not prove a legitimate origin of his or her Swiss assets, they would be confiscated by the Swiss state.

With the Swiss Assembly’s passage of R.I.A.A., it is expected that the last barriers to repatriating Duvalier’s frozen assets — an effort that began in 1986 — will finally be removed, and approximately $5.8 million will be soon returned to Haiti, a country desperately in need of good news and money. (Had the law not passed, the Swiss freeze would have expired, and the funds would have been returned to the Duvalier family.)

Let us hope that other major financial centers follow suit, that Haitian officials are emboldened to continue their fight against corruption, and that future dictators and kleptocrats around the world take notice. For it is only by international collective and targeted action that we can ensure that there will be no safe haven for stolen assets.

Mark V. Vlasic, an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University and partner at Ward & Ward PLLC, worked on the Haiti/Duvalier asset recovery team while serving as head of operations of the World Bank’s StAR Secretariat. He currently serves as international legal adviser to the Charles Taylor/Liberia asset recovery team.