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2020.04.01 11:25

Lithuania legalises asset seizure for serious crimes

The Seimas of Lithuania on Tuesday adopted a civil asset forfeiture law with amendments proposed by President Gitanas Nausėda – 106 lawmakers voted in favour, three were against at 12 abstained.

Under the law, the state can seize assets if a person is part of a criminal group, is suspected, charged or convicted for serious crimes, including human trafficking, robbery, extortion as well as corruption crimes linked to smuggling and drugs.

Assets could also be forfeited if their value did not match a person's legal income and the difference exceeded 100,000 euros.

Supporters of the new law say it will help to fight corruption. Critics, however, argue it violates the presumption of innocence and will disproportionally restrict people's ownership rights.

Under the president's proposal, lawmakers removed a clause in the bill making the law apply retroactively, as of December 11, 2010.

Read more: Lithuanian president vetoes asset seizure law

The earlier version of the law, adopted by the Seimas in January, stipulated that a civil asset forfeiture procedure might be initiated if the basis for it emerged at any time after December 11, 2010.

Under the presidential proposal, the law will apply to assets acquired after 2010, but the basis for asset seizure – the owner being suspected, charged, sentenced for corruption or organised crimes – will have to emerge after the law comes into force.

The president said his proposals preserve the fundamental purpose of the law, but reduces the risk that some of its provisions might be deemed anti-constitutional.

The Lithuanian parliament adopted the law on January 14.