Ward & Ward partner and Georgetown professor Mark Vlasic was recently quoted by the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) in two articles–“How dictators stash their cash 101” and “Swiss freeze Qaddafi assets”–discussing the Swiss government’s recent efforts to freeze the assets of embattled world leaders. Vlasic, a former head of operations at the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), has written several Op-Eds on stolen asset recovery and on how a new law in Switzerland makes it easier for the Swiss government to freeze potentially stolen assets.
Vlasic called Switzerland, “[O]ne of the most forward-leaning countries in the world of asset recovery,” and he said, “[The Swiss] burden-shifting law is unique in the world of anticorruption legislation.” Vlasic also told CSM that world bodies, like the World Bank and the G-20, are stepping up to assist in asset recovery efforts. He added, “Political leaders have aligned themselves with the importance of this cause, and that empowers the technical aspects.”
Thanks to the political significance of the issue, the new Swiss law, known as the Recovery of Illicit Assets Act, has already had some success. The law is playing an important role in an investigation of assets held by Haiti’s Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. While at the World Bank, Vlasic served on the Duvalier/Haiti asset recovery team, and he is currently serving as an international legal advisor to the Charles Taylor/Liberia recovery team.