EU Measures For Confiscation Of Proceeds Of Crime
Member States dragging their heels when it comes to applying Community legislation aimed at more widespread confiscation of the proceeds of crime
The Commission today adopted a report on the transposal of Council Framework Decision 2005/212/JHA of 24 February 2005 on confiscation of crime-related proceeds, instrumentalities and property. The report finds that most Member States have yet to take all the measures that are needed to allow more widespread confiscation of the proceeds of crime.
In the words of Vice-President Franco Frattini: "We must fight organised crime by starving it of its funding and by confiscating the fruits of its unlawful activities. The financial strength of organised crime is increasingly a threat to law-abiding society. Confiscating its proceeds is one way of stamping it out. In this way, criminals will be deprived of a powerful means of arbitrarily undermining the rule of law and democracy".
The Commission is concerned at the slow progress being made by Member States with the transposal of the Council framework decision. It reminds Member States of the importance they attached to fighting organised crime by stripping it of its financial gains. It points out that this importance is reflected in the 1990 Council of Europe Convention on laundering, search, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds from crime and in the 2000 United Nations Convention against transnational organised crime.
To combat organised crime effectively within the European Union, it is vital that strong, comprehensive national provisions be adopted.
Vice-President Frattini welcomed the fact that some Member States have armed themselves with the means of meeting the framework decision's main demands in full. But he went on to say: "I am disappointed that so many Member States have yet to take steps to empower their law enforcement agencies to confiscate property acquired by offenders as a result of criminal activities".
The Council framework decision seeks to ensure that Member States take action to allow two types of confiscation:
* confiscation, in whole or in part, of instrumentalities and proceeds from criminal offences punishable by deprivation of liberty for more than one year or of property the value of which corresponds to such proceeds; and
* confiscation, in whole or in part, of property belonging directly or indirectly to persons convicted of membership of a criminal organisation or of terrorism, where the property in question has been obtained as a result of criminal activities.
The report, which was drawn up pursuant to Article 6 of the framework decision, will be transmitted to the Council, which will use it to gauge the extent to which Member States have complied with the framework decision's provisions.
The Commission intends to adopt a communication on the proceeds of crime at the end of 2008 in which it will analyse comprehensively all European measures for the confiscation and recovery of property obtained through criminal activity and examine how subsequently to strengthen cooperation between police and judicial authorities so as to deprive criminals of their illicit gains.