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Management of frozen or seized property: new report assesses compliance with Warsaw Convention

Strasbourg, 13.12.2022 – Most European states have put in place legislation or other measures to ensure the proper management of frozen or seized property, although improvements are still needed in certain countries, according to a report released today by the Conference of the Parties of Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism - known as the “Warsaw Convention”. 

The report evaluates the extent to which 37 states parties comply with Article 6 of the treaty, which aims to ensure a systematic approach to the management of seized and frozen assets until the judicial authorities confirm the final confiscation order. Until then, seized and frozen assets should be preserved and administered in a manner that their value does not, at least, decrease. This applies to tangible assets - such as cars, buildings or precious metals - and intangible assets, such as intellectual property or virtual assets.

The report concludes that, although all states parties have adopted concrete measures to deal with seized assets, in some countries, these measures only address their storage until the final decision on their confiscation.

The degree to which systems of asset management are developed varies considerably across states parties. Some countries have established a well functioning system of asset management upon their seizure (Belgium, Croatia, France, Hungary, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom) and many others generally comply with the provisions of Article 6 of the Warsaw Convention. Several states parties reported ongoing reforms to improve their existing systems (Germany, Latvia, the Republic of Moldova, Portugal, San Marino and the Slovak Republic).

The report contains a set of recommendations, including:
•    states parties whose systems allow the storage of assets but not management measures for assets seized are invited to adopt such measures and apply them in practice
•    states parties in which general and institutional frameworks have been established but are yet in a developing phase are invited to strengthen them by adopting and implementing specific guidance on asset management

Moreover, to improve the effectiveness of their asset management systems, states parties are invited to adopt measures or guidance to manage specific assets, such as complex legal entities which generate income, and establish asset management offices.

The report contains a review of each state party evaluated and country-specific recommendations addressing any shortcomings identified.