Asset conﬁscation in
Europe –past, present, and
Department of Public Law, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Purpose –The purpose of this paper is to paint a general pictureof the asset conﬁscation regimes used in
Europe and to outline potential challenges, practical and related to issues of principle, associated with the
current developmentwith regard to the conﬁscation of the proceeds ofcrime and criminals’proceeds.
Design/methodology/approach –The paper endeavours to analyse the various steps of the
conﬁscation process, and the various approaches to the conﬁscation of proceeds of crime and criminals’
proceeds from a holistic perspective.The ﬁndings of the paper are based on a literature review along with a
legal analysisof the existent legal frameworks.
Findings –It is suggested that the efﬁciency of asset conﬁscations hould be looked atfrom a holistic perspective
involving the entire conﬁscation process, and not only focus on the conﬁscation powers awarded to the courts.
Challenges relating to efﬁciency exist along the entire process, from the stage of ﬁnancial investigations to the
enforcement stage. Some of the methods used for conﬁscating criminal proceeds are becoming very far-reaching
and raise concerns related to basic principles of criminal law and criminal procedural law.
Research limitations/implications –This paper is not based on empirical research relating to, for
example,the efﬁciency of conﬁscation. More empirical researchwould, however, be welcome in this ﬁeld.
Practical implications –The paper suggests that the efﬁciencyof asset conﬁscation is contingent on the
entire conﬁscationchain functioning efﬁciently. Before new and more repressivemeasures are introduced, the
existinglegal framework should be fully deployed andthe concrete needs for new tools clearly delineated.
Originality/value –The paper analyses conﬁscation with a view to the entire chain rather than merely
lookingat a particularconﬁscation scheme.
Keywords Asset recovery, Asset management, Proceeds of crime, Asset conﬁscation,
Financial investigations, Safeguards
Paper type General review
1. Introductory remarks
It is a basic point of departure in criminaljustice policy in most countries that no perpetrator
should proﬁt from his crime. The moral imperativethat no one should beneﬁt from crime is
generally strong. Economicallymotivated crime, such as corruption, seriousfraud, drug and
people trafﬁcking and so on, have adverse effects on many parts of society, and the illicit
proﬁts generated through these activities may be considerable. Not only may criminal
wealth be morally reproachable, but it may also undermine ﬁnancial structures of our
society. It is therefore important to have in place mechanisms that facilitate effective
conﬁscation of illicit proﬁts generated by unlawful conduct, in some cases even where the
individual has not beenconvicted of a criminal offence.
These mechanisms should be constructed in a way that facilitates effective implementation
and achievement of their objectives. However, when implementing conﬁscation schemes, which
may have considerable adverse effects on the individuals subjected to them, it is crucial that
also the rights of these individuals are safeguarded in an effective manner.
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.26 No. 2, 2019
© Emerald Publishing Limited
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