The four central stages of asset recovery are as follows:
Asset tracing is the process by which investigators examine revenues generated by criminal activity and follow the trail of illegally acquired proceeds.
Asset freezing involves the temporary retaining of property pending a final decision in a criminal case, thereby preventing assets from being destroyed, transformed, removed, transferred or disposed of before the case is closed.
Asset confiscation stops criminals from accessing the property, which is permanently taken away.
Asset disposal is the actual recovery of criminal assets, after which the assets either revert to the relevant state, are shared among the respective states or are returned to the victim.
On a general level, Eurojust facilitates the asset recovery process by providing legal and practical support to judicial authorities throughout the asset recovery lifecycle, by helping practitioners to resolve issues and answer questions, and by facilitating effective cooperation and communication between the involved States. Further to this, Eurojust provides support on complex investigations, including the setting up of joint investigation teams and the organisation of coordinated action days. The Agency also organises coordination meetings between the States involved, including EU and non-EU participants.
The specific forms of assistance Eurojust provides to national authorities during the respective stages of asset recovery is detailed in the adjacent tabs.
The Report on Eurojust’s Casework in Asset Recovery
In 2019, Eurojust published the Report on Eurojust’s Casework in Asset Recovery, to assist competent judicial authorities in the EU Member States in effectively recovering criminal assets during cross-border cases. The report is primarily based on the analysis of cases addressing asset recovery issues registered at Eurojust and is complemented by views expressed during dedicated discussions with the Eurojust National Desks. It provides an overview of the main legal and practical issues encountered by Eurojust in its casework in asset recovery. Further, it details the support Eurojust provides at the different stages of the asset recovery process, the main judicial cooperation instruments and tools used, and the identified best practices.
The report can be accessed here.
New EU legal framework on asset recovery
On 19 December 2020, the Regulation (EU) 2018/1805 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018 on the mutual recognition of freezing orders and confiscation orders became applicable. The Regulation introduces a completely new legal framework in the EU governing the area of judicial cooperation in the field of asset recovery, replacing the legal instruments applicable so far. The new regime brings both significant changes and novelties that might affect the everyday casework of practitioners in the Member States.
Eurojust has published a Note on the Regulation to (i) provide a brief introduction to the Regulation, (ii) raise awareness of the start of its application, and (iii) bring key novelties of the new legal framework to the attention of the practitioners as well as issues that could be of interest during the first days of its application.
The Note can be accessed here.