Paris, 7 September 2022 – Today, the French highest court has confirmed the condemnation of Syrian former vice president, Rifaat al-Assad, to four years in prison for money laundering and embezzlement and the confiscation of his assets located in France, shedding the spotlight on the recently adopted stolen asset restitution mechanism
Following today’s decision, the assets detained by Rifaat al-Assad in France seized during the procedure are to be confiscated. Thus, approximatively 90 million euros are to be restituted to the Syrian population, as provided by the law adopted in July 2021 creating a pioneering corruption asset restitution mechanism in France.
“Sherpa, at the forefront of the fight against international corruption and ill-gotten gains for two decades, welcomes this decision: a step forward in the struggle against impunity related to transnational corruption after many years of gradual positive signal sent by both judicial system and French government” declares Sandra Cossart, executive director of Sherpa.
This historical judicial saga, that led to the condemnation of a member of the al-Assad family for the first time, should not overshadow the fundamental issue: ensuring the return of stolen assets to the deprived populations, and further explore the judicial leverages to finally recognise the victims of corruption looking ahead to the reparation.
It is now essential that the French government focus its effort on determining the practical aspect of the restitution of stolen assets mechanism to ensure the return of stolen assets “the closest possible to the deprived population” as provided for in the law. According to Sandra Cossart, Sherpa’s Executive Director “this includes having an ad hoc approach to better adapt each restitution to the political and humanitarian context of the targeted country and ultimately avoid assets falling back into corruption circuits”.