New rules to make asset seizure easier
The regulation fortifies fight against terrorism, organised crime
Maria Koleva, Brussels
12 January, 2018
New rules, that will give EU countries full scope to freeze and confiscate criminal assets throughout the EU, were backed on 11 January by the Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) members, with 47 votes in favour, two against and one abstention. Talks with the Council can start immediately after the full house backs the negotiating mandate.
This draft regulation is a component of a package that aims to fortify the fight against financing terrorism and organised crime. The adopted text, authored by the French ALDE MEP Nathalie Griesbeck, will also allow national authorities to temporarily freeze assets that are at risk of suddenly being moved, if no action is taken. It will help Member States to request that assets of terrorists and other criminals in another EU country be frozen or confiscated, and this process will be easier and faster.
The new legislation will as well make wider the scope of the type of assets that can be confiscated or frozen. A survey carried out by Europol shows that 98.9% of estimated criminal profits in the EU are not confiscated and remain at the disposal of criminals.
As rapporteur Griesbeck pointed out after the vote, this report completes the package on money laundering and money systems without control, and brings a very concrete extension from one Member State to another as regards confiscation of criminal assets or freezing of criminal assets. According to her, it is in the logic of criminal law to complete this system which is now put into place to recuperate also a lot of money tied to criminal activity, and also terrorism. The rapporteur also noted that new legislation will speed up confiscation and freezing of assets between Member States with tight deadlines, leading to a more powerful European response in this key field. Parliament's position also promotes the re-use of frozen and confiscated assets for social purposes, she added.
Under the draft regulation, Member States who receive a freezing or confiscation order will be bound to execute it within 20 days, as opposed to the 60 days proposed by the Commission, so that criminals do not have time to move their assets.
According to the MEPs, freezing and confiscation of property is an efficient way to prevent terrorists from carrying out attacks, as well as hindering the activities of other organised criminals.
MEPs also said that confiscated money can be used for compensation of the victims, their families and also companies which have suffered under the phenomenon of organised crime.
They specified that, with confiscations worth more than €10,000, the money that remains after the compensation would be shared between the issuing and the executing Member States.