On 15 September, Dovydas Vitkauskas, Coordinator of the EU Project “Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine, spoke at the presentation of the Draft Law of Ukraine “On amendments to certain legislative acts of Ukraine concerning the specificity of forfeituring illegitimate assets”. The presentation was held at the UA Crisis Media Center with a participation of Pavlo Petrenko, the Minister of Justice of Ukraine, Anton Yanchuk, the Deputy Minister of Justice, Anton Gerashchenko, MP, and Karl Volokh, the civic activist.

The Government of Ukraine has authorized the Ministry of Justice to engage in a development of the mentioned draft law. “I want to thank the EU Project for joining us in this work…This draft law complies with standards and requirements of the EU Member States,” – stressed Pavlo Petrenko.

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According to the Minister, it has been estimated that sums from 20 to 30 billion USD were illegally removed from the state budget in the period of Victor Yanukovych’s presidency.  “Such an enormous scale of corruption has set a clear mission for the law-enforcement agencies to return illegally removed assets deposited in Ukrainian and foreign banks. That was why we had to introduce new legislation in the area of criminal procedure and criminal law. It includes a trial in absentia, as well as confiscation of illegally acquired wealth,” – the Minister said.

“It is a great pleasure for us to involve in the development of this draft law with the Ministry of Justice. This is one of the good example of corroborative work taking place…Our position with the Ministry of Justice is that the new draft law should bring much benefit to the Ukrainian society. But at the same time we need to work together to improve the capacity of justice sector and to develop international cooperation mechanism which, will be essential to have an effective asset recovery regime,” – noted Dovydas Vitkauskas.

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As he mentioned, many jurisdictions in the EU had already designed similar tool to the one developed by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine – a non-conviction based confiscation targeted at assets as a preventive measure.

Dovydas Vitkauskas stressed that presented draft was a good way toward much better balance between crime prevention and protection of property rights. “We see there are still some issues with the capacity of the justice sector and law-enforcement which need to be resolved. The Asset Recovery and Management office needs to be operational. International cooperation between law enforcement bodies is essential. Proceeds of crime is a global phenomenon and states have to work together to track assets and seize them”.

Consolidated expert position on legislative proposals on non-conviction based confiscation is available at the official website of the EU Project “Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine”.

Full video from the presentation is available here.

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