On 12 December 2023, the Council of the EU announced that the European Parliament and the Council had reached a political agreement on a Directive enshrining updated rules on asset recovery and confiscation within the framework of the EU Strategy to tackle Organised Crime 2021-2025.
Recital 12 of the initial Commission proposal of May 2022 said that the concept of property that can be subject to freezing and confiscation should be defined broadly and should, among others, cover all forms of property, including crypto-assets. Under the initial proposal, asset recovery offices had to be empowered to trace and identify property of persons and entities subject to EU targeted financial sanctions to prevent, detect or investigate criminal offences and had to hence cooperate with asset recovery offices and other relevant competent authorities in other Member States and exchange relevant information. The Commission proposal also contained details with regard to the access of asset recovery officers to certain information that is necessary for the tracing and identification of, among others, property, as well as with regard to the exchange of information. For instance, under the initial proposal, an asset recovery office requesting certain information from other asset recovery offices had to specify as precisely as possible the details on the property targeted or sought like bank accounts, companies and other high value items. The initial Commission proposal also contained provisions on freezing, on confiscation, on confiscation from a third party, on confiscation of unexplained wealth linked to criminal activities, on effective confiscation and execution, on asset management and pre-seizure planning, on legal remedies, on the establishment of centralised registries of frozen and confiscated property, as well as on interlocutory sales. Under the initial proposal, asset management offices were set up, among others, to manage frozen and confiscated property. The Commission proposal also contained an obligation for Member States to inform the affected person of freezing orders, confiscation orders, orders to sell the property, as well as of the reasons for such measures.
As of 12 December 2023, the text of the political agreement by the co-legislators is not yet publicly available.
The political agreement will now be subject to formal approval by the co-legislators. The Directive will then be published in the Official Journal of the EU and enter into force 20 days later. From that moment, Member States will have 30 months to transpose the Directive into national law.