Financial crime: EU adopts new rules on asset freezing, confiscation orders
07 Nov 2018

The Council of the European Union has announced the adoption of a new set of rules that will provide authorities with broader powers and faster methods of seizing property off criminals.

A key feature of the legislation is that is introduces a single set of asset freezing rules across the EU, which the Council said will resolve issues experienced under the existing instruments, that have resulted in ‘insufficient mutual recognition.’

Under mutual recognition, all judicial decisions in criminal matters taken in one EU country will normally be enforced by another member state.

According to a Council statement, other features of the new rules include:

• A wide range of types of confiscation in criminal matters such as value based confiscation and non-conviction based confiscation, including some systems of preventive confiscation, provided that there is a link to a criminal offence.

• Standard certificates and procedures to allow for speedy and efficient freezing and confiscation actions.

• A deadline of 45 days for the recognition of a confiscation order and in urgent cases a deadline of 48 hours for the recognition and 48 hours for the execution of freezing orders. Those limits can only be extended under strict conditions.

• Provisions to ensure that victims’ rights to compensation and restitution are respected in cross-border cases.

The regulation will come into effect 24 months after its publication in the EU official journal.

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