U.S. Hosts Western Hemisphere Anti-Corruption Meeting in Miami
Meeting focuses on asset forfeiture and money laundering
By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- Western Hemisphere prosecutors and anti-corruption experts will discuss on recovering assets and property in cases involving official corruption May 2-5 at a Miami meeting sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Participants at the meeting are studying such issues as the legal procedures available in different countries for the forfeiture of assets derived from public corruption, the Organization of American States (OAS), which is supporting the event, said in a May 4 statement.
Other topics include techniques for investigating and prosecuting money-laundering offenses, effective methods for detecting international transfers of funds, and ways to investigate corruption in the police, in the military and in customs and revenue services.
Mary Lee Warren, deputy assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department's Criminal Division, is moderating a session at the conference on the prospects for future cooperation in the Western Hemisphere on these issues.
Another Justice Department official at the Miami event is Daniel Claman, a senior trial attorney in the Department of Asset Forfeiture. That office uses the USA Patriot Act and other U.S. criminal forfeiture statutes to seize assets accumulated through criminal acts, or from unethical acts committed in government or business. These acts include terrorism or acts such as theft, extortion, fraud and money laundering, which can support terrorist acts.
Jorge García González, head of the OAS Office of Legal Cooperation, said the meeting in Miami brings together nearly 100 experts from the Western Hemisphere and complements other OAS efforts to carry out the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. That convention, adopted in 1996, has been ratified by the United States and almost all other countries in the Americas.
The convention requires nations to adopt domestic laws criminalizing certain activities, including the acceptance or solicitation of bribes by public officials, establishes extradition requirements, and calls for mutual assistance and cooperation in investigating and prosecuting acts of corruption. Additional information on the convention is available on the State Department Web site.
The meeting in Miami responds to mandates of the January 2004 Special Summit of the Americas held in Monterrey, Mexico. In the Declaration of Nuevo León, adopted at that summit, the nations of the hemisphere made a commitment "to deny safe haven to corrupt officials, to those who corrupt them, and their assets; and to cooperate in their extradition as well as in the recovery and return of the proceeds of corruption to their legitimate owners." (See related article.)
At the global level, the Group of Eight (G8) nations, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia, also has made commitments to promote international cooperation on these issues.
For additional information, see Bribery and Corruption and Past Summits.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)