Senior Bureau Official Alice G. Wells Remarks on Repatriation of Stolen Assets to the Kyrgyz Republic

Senior Bureau Official Alice G. Wells


Illicit Funds Recovery Event with Minister of Finance Baktygul Jeenbaeva

Monday, February 26, 2019, 2:30 p.m.

Ministry of Finance, 58, Erkindik bulvar, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic


Саламатсыздарбы! (Translation: Greetings!)

Thank you, Minister Jeenbaeva.  It is a great honor for me to join you today as a sign of refining our Kyrgyz-American relations.

This ceremony represents the culmination of many years of cooperative efforts between our two governments, particularly between our law enforcement officials, to investigate, recover, and now return $4.6 million worth of assets stolen by the family of former President Kurmanbek Bakiev.  The return of these funds is a major achievement and a milestone for our bilateral relationship.  It highlights U.S. government support for President Jeenbekov’s anti-corruption campaign and demonstrates our commitment to returning Kyrgyz public funds stolen by corrupt officials.

We are encouraged by your government’s proposals to use these returned funds for the benefit of the Kyrgyz people, including new initiatives to provide clean water to rural areas and to purchase essential medical equipment for local hospitals.  In addition, these funds will promote transparency in the Kyrgyz justice sector, with the purchase and installation of video and audio equipment in district courts, allowing for greater transparency and public oversight of the courts.

The United States is proud to partner with your government in securing the return of these funds, which rightfully belong to the Kyrgyz people.  Today we are sending a message that our two governments will not tolerate corrupt officials who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of their people and their country’s development.  This handover ceremony reflects our shared desire for the Kyrgyz Republic to take bold steps in the fight against corruption.

My visit to the Kyrgyz Republic also offers the opportunity to highlight our two governments’ commitment to negotiate a new bilateral cooperation agreement.  This agreement will serve as the foundation for our collaboration in areas as diverse as providing proper nutrition to schoolchildren, assisting local farmers in growing world-class agricultural products, and building an efficient Central Asian energy market.  With goodwill on both sides, I am confident we can get this agreement concluded quickly to the benefit of both of our countries.

We have been building a U.S.-Kyrgyz bilateral relationship based on trust, equality, and mutual respect since the Kyrgyz Republic gained independence in 1991.  We seek to increase our cooperation on counterterrorism and countering violent extremism to ensure stability and security; improve the business environment in order to increase economic prosperity and expand opportunities for American investors; and develop a productive dialogue between our two democracies so that together we may advance our common values.

We look forward to many more years of fruitful cooperation and friendship.

Чоң рахмат!  (Translation: Thank you!)