Fighting organised crime by facilitating the confiscation of illegal assets

The Assembly noted with deep concern that according to World Bank and European Union organised criminals make hundreds of billions of euros in criminal profits each year. But the confiscation of criminal assets is often prevented by “an unreasonably heavy burden of proof placed on the competent national authorities and by ineffective cooperation between the authorities in different countries” in tracking, freezing and confiscating criminal assets across borders.

To remedy this, following the proposals of the rapporteur Mart van de Ven (Netherlands, ALDE), the parliamentarians called on member States of the Council of Europe to provide for non-conviction based confiscation in their national laws, as well as “the possibility of equivalent value confiscation and taxation of criminal gains”, whilst establishing appropriate safeguards and adopt successfully tested good practices.

According to the parliamentarians, international cooperation in this field should be promoted by taking expeditious action and co-operating with each other to the widest extent possible for the purposes of investigations and proceedings “aiming at the confiscation of instrumentalities and proceeds of crime”.

“According to the World Bank, the profits generated by organised crime and large-scale corruption amount to more than USD 2 000 billion (2 trillion), year after year. Europol says that in Europe, just over 1% of criminal profits are confiscated. States must do better than that. There is money lying around, ready to be picked up, to help our States repair some of the damage caused by crime. Let us facilitate confiscation of criminal assets, along the lines of the “Irish model” of non-conviction based confiscation,” Mr van de Ven said.