Will the Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery (UFAR) trace looted cultural property?

The U.K. and U.S.-organised, international Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery (UFAR) will bring together governmental, policy, legal, financial and regulatory experts to support the tracing and recovery of Ukrainian assets that were ‘looted under the Yanukovych regime‘ (through establishing networks, sharing techniques, teaching best practice, building capacity…). Though there has been no explicit statement that any cultural experts are participating in the Forum, Ukrainian prosecutors want to recover billions of dollars in cash and property.

As illicit antiquities collecting was a pursuit of the political elite (seemingly including the attorney-general), as Yanukovych took ‘a lot of paintings’ with him even when he was fleeing the country and much more was left behind, as Ukrainian experts are tracing state-plundered cultural assets, and especially as art and antiquities are key assets for money laundering, UFAR should be investigating the plunder of cultural goods. They should be able to recover a lot of illicit cultural property, and it may help them to crack down on the former regime’s support network.

(Some of these sources have worked for institutions such as the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) of the World Bank and the UNODC, so non-cultural experts are aware of the cultural and economic potential of tracing art and antiquities.)

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