The European Commission wants to make it easier to confiscate assets associated with illegal activities and suspected criminals, including those who evade European Union sanctions against Russia, Reuters reported with reference to the draft document.
The legislative proposal, due to be published on Wednesday and still subject to change, aims to address gaps in the EU, where many states lack a strong enough legal framework to seize criminal assets, making it easier for criminals to hide their resources and profits from illegal activities.
The war in Ukraine has further exposed these gaps, as many states seek to freeze the assets of people sanctioned by the EU for their “Kremlin ties,” and many others lack the legal authority to confiscate frozen assets.
The legislative proposal will address these shortcomings by creating a common legal framework.
The offenses to which the new rules will apply include terrorism, participation in a criminal organization, human trafficking, money laundering, as well as violation of EU sanctions, which, under a separate proposal, would become a crime throughout the EU.
Seizure of assets would normally require a conviction, but under the bill it could be allowed to go to trial in some cases for suspected criminals and if they are handed over to suspected or accused third parties, including family members.
EU authorities said that one of the main obstacles they faced in applying sanctions against Moscow was that individuals registered their assets in a false name or transferred them before the imposition of sanctions.
To become law, the proposal needs the support of EU governments, which have traditionally been wary of reforms requiring changes to their criminal laws.