European Interest

New EU rules target criminal assets

Flickr/Marco Verch/CC BY 2.0

A new regulation to help seize more illegal earnings from terrorists and other criminals was passed by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee on January 11. It was adopted by 47 votes in favour, 2 against and 1 abstention.

The rules will make it quicker and easier for an EU member state to request that the property of a criminal in another member state be frozen or confiscated. According to Europol, only 1.1% of all criminal proceeds in the EU are confiscated.

MEPs agreed that member states who receive a freezing or confiscation order should 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.

The deadline may, however, be postponed, for instance if the confiscation would hurt an ongoing criminal investigation.

MEPs also agreed that victims will be the first in line to receive compensation when distributing the confiscated assets. In cases of confiscations worth more than €10,000, the money that remains after the compensation would be shared between the issuing and executing member state by 70% and 30% respectively.

“Crime should not pay and money coming from and going to criminal organisations needs to be blocked,” said Rapporteur Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE, FR). “The regulation voted through is a key tool to combat the financing of criminal activity, including terrorism. The committee adopted an ambitious position that 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.”

The legislation will take effect six months after it enters into force.

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