Criminal suspects who flee the country or who are ill could still have their illicit assets confiscated and donated to charity. Romanian centre-right MEP Monica Macovei, the parliament’s lead negotiator on the file, described it as a “win-win” situation.
“Citizens win, there would be more money for schools, pensions, hospitals, member states win because there would be more money in the national coffers and the EU wins as well,” she said during a plenary debate on Monday evening.Billions are said to be lost every year, with just 1 percent or so confiscated.
The overall plan is to fill in legal loopholes in member state legislation that prevent authorities from getting hold of assets like cars and houses purchased with drug money or other criminal activities.
The new rules say the property can be grabbed even if the guilty party is ill or has left the country and has not been subject to a criminal conviction.
The person must explain to a judge how they paid for the items or risk having them seized and sold off. The money could then be pooled into a special fund set to help people in need. (…)
Criminals who transfer their assets outside the EU will not be spared.
“If you have someone who is receiving income by committing crime and those assets are held in someone else’s name, now they can be seized,” said Macovei.
Safeguards included in the bill would allow incriminated people to challenge the seizure in a court.
MEPs had originally wanted to broaden the scope to other areas, for instance, people who have died, a provision backed by the European Commission, but rejected by some member states.
Both the parliament and member states have asked the Brussels-executive to study proposals that would allow police to grab the property even without a conviction.
Italy, Ireland, United Kingdom Bulgaria, and Slovakia already have jurisdictions with non-conviction based confiscation legislation. (…)