The head of Peru’s Judiciary, Javier Arévalo Vela, has publicly highlighted Peru’s success in recovering the proceeds of corruption and related financial crimes through its non-conviction based forfeiture law, Extinción de Dominio.
The subsystem Peru has rolled out to implement the law “allows the state to recover money from cases of corruption, money laundering and more” he said. Around USD 64 million have already been recovered, with many more cases in the pipeline.
The convention was a working event, with the aim of harmonising the understanding and practical application of the law across Peru’s decentralised Extinción de Dominio tribunals. Thanking the Swiss SECO Cooperation and Basel Institute for their support, Mr Arévalo Vela said:
“Events such as this one foster knowledge and exchange of ideas among judges. The outcomes of this convention will be positive in terms of exchanging ideas and unifying criteria, and above all in terms of shaping the future of this subsystem.”
Stefano Vescovi, Deputy Head of Mission at the Swiss Embassy in Peru, welcomed the participants on behalf of the Swiss Government, emphasising that:
“We are pleased to have representatives from the regions of Peru and hope that this event will contribute to the efforts of the Peruvian judicial authorities in the process of implementing the asset forfeiture subsystem. Through the Subnational PFM Programme, we support Peru’s justice institutions in the process of asset recovery in favour of the Peruvian State and in strengthening the competences of practitioners to tackle organised crime, corruption and money laundering.”
As Oscar Solórzano, our Head of Latin America, said in opening remarks:
“Having supported Peru before and during the establishment of the subsystem, we are proud to see the profound advances and its consolidation in recent years. Peru is an example in the region as the only country tackling international asset recovery cases.”
The success is in large part due to the work of the judges, Oscar stressed, but also due to the high level of political will in Peru to introduce and apply the Extinción de Dominio law in major corruption cases.
The convention also illuminated some of the other factors that have made Peru a leader in the use of Extinción de Dominio legislation to recover the proceeds of corruption:
1. Motivated prosecutors and judges eager to learn from their peers
The key success factor is the talent and commitment of prosecutors, judges and others to investigate and prosecute corruption and money laundering cases and to recover the proceeds of these crimes.
2. The law itself, aligned with applicable human rights standards
Of the different models of non-conviction based forfeiture law that exist in Latin America, the Extinción de Dominio model adopted by Peru and several other countries is arguably the one most aligned with a human rights focus.
As Oscar Solórzano has argued, a human rights-based approach to developing and implementing non-conviction based forfeiture laws is essential. This will help to fireproof them against claims that they violate rights such as procedural rights and the right to property, and are therefore unconstitutional.
Most corrupt proceeds do not stay within the country but are laundered and hidden in international financial centres. This makes international cooperation crucial to the success of asset recovery proceedings.
As Peruvian Prosecutor Hamilton Castro stresses in this interview, international cooperation is complicated by the fact that different states have different legal systems. Some do not recognise non-conviction based forfeiture and are unwilling to provide mutual legal assistance.
Peru’s cooperation with foreign partners on such cases has improved significantly with the help of the Basel Institute’s advisors. It is also the only Latin American country so far to have enforced asset confiscation orders based on its non-conviction based forfeiture law in foreign jurisdictions.
In December 2020, for example, it signed a trilateral agreement with Switzerland and Luxembourg regarding the repatriation of over USD 26 million to Peru.
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