The Ministers of Justice took one more positive step concerning the freezing and confiscating the proceeds of crime. More specifically, they agreed on the aspect of extended confiscation which basically provides the confiscation of assets of a convicted person, even if the specific assets do not constitute direct proceeds of crime on which the conviction was made. Moreover, progress was made concerning market manipulation.
Issues in the area of justice which can contribute to growth and to better protection of the legal economy from transnational organised crime were at the centre of discussions during the second and last day of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, which was held in Luxemburg and chaired by the Minister of Justice and Public Order, Mr. Loucas Louca. The Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms. Viviane Reding, who also participated in the Council, described the meeting as a very constructive one.
"I would like to thank the Cyprus Presidency for all their hard work over the past four months in helping to move our 'Justice for Growth' proposals forward," the Commissioner said.
Confiscation of assets not related to conviction
Regarding the proposed directive on the Freezing and Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime in the EU , the ministers agreed on the aspect of extended confiscation. This particular aspect provides the opportunity to the Member States to confiscate assets, which do not constitute the direct proceed of a crime, yet they are disproportionate to the value of income of the convicted person for a serious crime.
Given this positive step, the progress achieved at the working group level as well as the importance that the Cyprus Presidency attributes to this topic, Mr. Louca said: "we are optimistic that after today’s positive step, we will achieve a general agreement by the end of the year."
Restricting market manipulation
Discussions also evolved around the proposal concerning insider dealing and market manipulation. After today’s discussions there will be an acceleration of discussions at a technical level concerning this extremely important issue, which can drastically prevent perpetrators from manipulating the market through practices such as spreading false information or rumours and conducting trades which secure prices at abnormal levels, taking advantage of the differences in national legal systems.
Furthermore, the ministers had an in-depth discussion on the final report of the 5th run on mutual evaluations on financial crime and financial investigations. Given the fact that swift and effective access to bank account data reinforces the efforts for combating organised crime, ministers also concluded that differences in the legal and administratives systems, as well as the fundamental principles of the protection of personal data, should be also taken into account.
The ministers also welcomed the efforts made by the Cyprus Presidency in relation to the proposal for a European Account Preservation Order to Facilitate Cross Border Debt Recovery.
"We will carry on the intensive negotiation at working group level, so that creditors are able to recover their debts in another Member State, without of course neglecting deptors΄ rights”, the Cypriot Minister pointed out.
Finally, the ministers took stock of developments and the progress achieved since the Informal JHA Council meeting last July, with regards to the Data Protection Reform Package. They exchanged views on this vital issue, while some of participants expressed the concern, whether the proposed regulation constitutes the most correct legal measure.
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Ministry of Justice & Public Order
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