From today the confiscation of property derived from criminal activity will be faster and more efficient 01.08.2017
Today, on 1 August, the draft laws developed by the Ministry of Justice on the execution of confiscation of property derived from criminal activity enter into force. The amendments aim to improve the ability of the state to combat money laundering, including by ensuring efficient confiscation of assets derived from criminal activities, thus, significantly improving the investigation of these crimes, provision of proof and prosecution of individuals.
The amendments improve the criminal procedural framework for the confiscation of property derived from criminal activities and set a new standard of proof for finding the property derived from criminal activity, as well as clarify the procedural rules relating to the treatment of the confiscated property and expand the opportunities to confiscate property in pretrial criminal proceedings. At the same time, the new legal framework also provides third parties, whose assets have been arrested, but who are not suspects or defendants, the right to actively participate in the criminal proceedings.
Regulatory framework was also developed in regard to the execution of the confiscation of property derived from criminal activity, providing that the during the confiscation process special attention is granted to the victim (purchasing confiscated property, receiving compensation satisfied at the criminal proceedings). Also, the person whose property has been confiscated, will not be allowed to participate and purchase the property during the confiscation execution process and there is a mechanism for ensuring that, as a result of the execution of confiscation of property derived from crime, the new owner will be exempt from tax debt (property tax and vehicle operating tax).
As for the compensation of damages incurred by the victim and its recovery, it is provided that the court will send the sworn bailiff a writ of execution regarding the compensation of damages for the benefit of the victim and the victim (physical person) will be exempt from covering the expenses for the costs of the execution of the judgment and the duty to provide the means of enforcement from 2019.
The amendments to the Law on Prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing and the Criminal Law intends to extend the composition of a criminal offence. The amendments will provide criminal liability for purchase, storage or sales of property derived from criminal activity if its value does not exceed a large amount. While handling the proceeds of criminal activity, including property, exceeding large mount, as well as other related activities, will be considered money laundering for which there is a criminal penalty.
Efficient combating of money laundering, including efficient confiscation of proceeds of crime, are important to fight against criminal activities and to ensure the reputation of the financial sector and the state on an international level. Considering the increased money laundering risks in Latvia as pointed out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as well as the upcoming Prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing expert committee (Moneyval) 5th evaluation of the technical compliance of the Latvian prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing to the Financial Action Task Force recommendations.