The Commission adopted today the report “Asset recovery and confiscation: ensuring that crime does not pay” (PDF). Profits of organised crime groups are estimated at EUR 110 billion per year in the EU. However, as reported by Europol, only about 1% of these profits are confiscated. Organised crime groups therefore have the means to invest in the expansion of their criminal activities, and to infiltrate the legal economy.
The EU has deployed considerable efforts to harmonise the legislation on confiscation and asset recovery. Since 2007, Asset Recovery Offices were established in all Member States, and the 2014 Directive on the freezing and confiscation of instrumentalities and proceeds of crime has harmonised rules on the freezing, management and confiscation of such assets across the EU.
The recently adopted Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing orders and confiscation orders will improve cross-border cooperation. However, there is still much room for improvement: a confiscation rate of estimated 1% is too low and allows organised crime groups to invest in the expansion of their criminal activities and to infiltrate the legal economy.