The Report by Romanian MEP Monica Macovei (Liberal Democratic Party, PDL) regarding the Directive on placing under lien and confiscating the assets gained through crimes was adopted on Tuesday by the plenary sitting of the European Parliament (EP), convened in Strasbourg, by 631 votes for, 19 against and 25 abstentions.
Photo credit: (c) Stefan Micsik / AGERPRES ARHIVA
European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom welcomed the vote in the EP, stating that the Directive will ease the police's job of hitting organized crime where it hurts most, namely in illicit profits, AGERPRES correspondent Florin Stefan reports.
'Clearly, the judicial and law-enforcement authorities will have more important means to recoup a larger share of illegal profits that go into the pockets of criminals or which are reinvested in assets or legal activities. That is good news for citizens and the functioning of our economy,' Cecilia Malmstrom was quoted as saying by a press release of the European Commission.
Rapporteur Monica Macovei told the debate before the voting that after the adoption and implementation of the Directive, confiscating the money of criminals would be easier and faster, and everyone would stand to gain.
'The first to gain will be the citizens, because in the public budgets there will be more money for schools, hospitals or pensions. The national budgets and the EU budget will gain as well, because these will increase. In 2009 alone, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, the trafficking in humans and small arms produced 2.1 trillion dollars and only 1% of these huge proceeds were placed under lien or were confiscated. That means nothing. Money remains at the criminals and we lose. Confiscation is not used in all member states, and laws at the national level are uneven. The consequence is disastrous. We leave annually billions to be laundered and put into the underground economy or criminal rings,' Monica Macovei told the EP.
The Rapporteur added that negotiations were tough, but that the resulting directive introduces minimum norms at the EU level and new ways of confiscation.
'For example, money and assets can be confiscated even if the defendant is ill or left the country and the trial does not result in a conviction. An important pillar of the Directive is the extended confiscation of incomes that cannot be justified legally. For example, if you are convicted for a small amount [gained] from drug trafficking, 1,000 euros, the judge will evaluate all your assets and if not you cannot justify them, he/she will confiscate them, assuming that the assets come also from drug trafficking,' said Macovei.
According to the Directive, this will apply in cases of: 1) active and passive corruption in the public and private sector, plus corruption in the case of European officials, 2) participation in organized crime rings, 3) child pornography, 4) cybercrime, and 5) any crime punishable by law with at least 4 years' imprisonment.AGERPRES