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Press Release - General approach on rules for confiscation of assets, market abuse and protection of victims starts off Friday JHA Council
07.12.2012, 12:09 (CET)
On the morning of the second day of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, the Council took several important steps in combating cross-border and organised crime and in strengthening the rights of victims of crime throughout the European Union. Ministers agreed on general approaches concerning legislative proposals on freezing and confiscation of proceeds from crime and on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters. A general approach was also agreed on the proposal for the Directive on insider dealing and market manipulation. The proposal constitutes the first time that the article of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is used, which provides for common minimum rules in criminal law as a legal base.

The Directive proposal on the freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime in the European Union is an important measure for tackling profitable crime. Therefore finding a political agreement, agreeing on a general approach, and concluding the negotiations has been a priority for the Cyprus EU Presidency, as well as the Member States. The general approach reached today will provide a basis for the negotiations with the European Parliament.

Strengthening current legislation for asset confiscation

The proposal aims to strengthen existing legislation on the confiscation of assets which have been derived from serious or organised crime. The objective is to facilitate Member States’ authorities with the confiscation, freezing and recovery of profits which have been obtained through cross-border and organised crime, thus serving to thwart the financial incentive and protecting the legitimacy of the economy.

Among other things, the proposal contains provisions for facilitating confiscation of assets associated with criminal activities of convicted persons and for simplifying measures for recovering assets which were transferred to third parties who should have been aware that these assets had a criminal origin. It also contains safeguards so that Member States’ authorities are able to act within the fundamental rights protection framework, in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. Once adopted, Member States will have three years to transpose the Directive into their national law.

Ensuring the protection of victims

The Justice and Home Affairs Council also reached a compromise on a general approach on the European Commission proposal for a Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters. This proposal is part of a legislative package that strengthens the rights of victims in the EU. Taking into account the different legal traditions in the Member States, this Regulation will complement the current EU legislation on the European protection order, which covers protection measures in criminal matters, and will ensure the protection of victims of crime throughout the EU.

EU Justice Ministers also agreed on a general approach with regard to the proposal for the Directive on insider dealing and market manipulation (MAD). It is the first time that Article 83(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is being used as a legal base for a legislative proposal. The article provides for the adoption of common minimum rules in criminal law in order to ensure the effective implementation of a harmonised EU policy.

Restoring confidence in financial markets

The reform targets the strengthening of the enforcement of EU rules against criminal activity and aims to restore confidence in financial markets, as the current sanction regime has proved ineffective in protecting the integrity of the markets. The Directive complements the proposal for a Regulation on Market Abuse, which will improve the existing EU legislative framework through the reinforcement of administrative sanctions.

The ministers’ agreed general approach provides definitions for offences such as ‘insider dealing’ and ‘market manipulation’. This addition to the proposal will enhance the Union’s capacity to combat market abuse offences, since the current varied definitions among Member States for these terms, enables perpetrators to benefit from legal loopholes.

The proposed legislation will require Member States to take the necessary actions so as to ensure that the criminal offences are subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.  It foresees the criminalisation of the manipulation of benchmarks, such as the LIBOR and EURIBOR, and provides liability of legal persons.   Through the proposed legislation, Member States are required to impose criminal sanctions for inciting, aiding and abetting market abuse, as well as for attempts to commit such offences.

As such, the proposal will prevent both natural and legal persons from taking advantage of differences in the legal structures among Member States.

The general approach reached on the proposal will now give the mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament. Once adopted, Member States will have two years to transpose the Directive into national law.

Presidency Spokesperson in Brussels
Nikos Christodoulides

Coreper II

Email: nchristodoulides@mfa.gov.cy
Telephone: +32 27395152
Mobile: +32 473400441
Communications Officer
Lefki Solomontos

Ministry of Justice & Public Order

Email: lsolomontos@mjpo.gov.cy
Telephone: +357 22805996

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06.12.2012 - 07.12.2012

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