Commission welcomes the political agreement on rules strengthening asset recovery and confiscation in the European Union
The European Commission welcomes today's political agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council on updated rules on asset recovery and confiscation.
The new Directive will be key in the fight against serious and organised crime. It will limit the capacity of criminals to maintain and expand their criminal activities as well as to increase corruption and infiltrate the economy by investing illegal gains. The proposed rules will also cover the violation of restrictive measures, ensuring the effective tracing, freezing, management and confiscation of benefits coming from violating sanctions.
Once adopted, the new EU Directive will:
- Expand the possibilities to confiscate assets from a wider set of crimes such as arms trafficking, fraud, trafficking of cultural goods including for bypassing of sanctions once the Commission proposal on extending the list of EU crimes is adopted.
- Allow for the confiscation of unexplained wealth linked to criminal activities, ensuring illegal gains do not remain in the hands of criminals that managed to hide the illegal origin of their properties or assets.
- Provide Asset Recovery Offices with the mandate to swiftly trace and identify criminal assets, including to urgently freeze property when there is a risk that assets could disappear.
- Ensure financial investigations for high profit generating crimes.
- Establish Asset Management Offices in all EU Member States to ensure that frozen property does not lose its value and enable the sale of frozen assets that are at such risk or are costly to maintain.
- Facilitate victims' right to compensation, by allowing for compensation through the confiscated property if necessary.
- Strengthen safeguards to ensure that affected persons have the necessary and effective remedies to protect their rights, such as the right to defence, to be informed and to challenge judicial decisions.
The political agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council is now subject to formal approval by the co-legislators. Once published in the Official Journal, the Directive will enter into force 20 days after publication and Member States will have 30 months to transpose the provisions of the Directive into national law.
In May 2022, the Commission presented new reinforced rules on recovery and confiscation of assets of oligarchs violating restrictive measures as well as of criminals benefiting from illicit gains. To achieve these objectives a Directive to establish criminal penalties to persons violating EU law on restrictive measures was proposed, along with a Directive for asset recovery and confiscation.
Asset recovery is key to fight organised crime and its illicit activities as it was remarked in the Roadmap against drugs trafficking and organised crime presented in October 2023. This Directive reflects also the objectives and measures foreseen in the EU Strategy to tackle Organised Crime 2021-2025 in April 2021.
It is also an important tool to reinforce the implementation of EU restrictive measures. The Union has put in place a series of restrictive measures against Russian and Belarusian individuals and companies, as well as sectoral measures some of which date back to 2014. The implementation of EU restrictive measures following the Russian aggression against Ukraine shows the complexity of identifying assets owned by oligarchs, who hide them across different jurisdictions through complex legal and financial structures.
For More Information
Proposal for a Directive on asset recovery and confiscation
EU strategy to tackle organised crime for 2021-2025
Commission website on Confiscation and Asset Recovery