Commit a crime and lose your assets: New legislation will improve forfeiture

VICTORIA – Legislation that will help remove financial incentives to crime by improving the effectiveness of criminal forfeiture was introduced Tuesday by Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond.

The Criminal Asset Management Act links to the Province’s justice reform initiative and will enable prosecutors to pursue criminal forfeiture more frequently by establishing a way to manage assets restrained, seized or forfeited under the Criminal Code and other criminal law statutes.

It fulfils a commitment by Premier Christy Clark to introduce legislation to give government explicit legislative authority to manage and dispose of property forfeited as a result of a criminal prosecution. Forfeiture serves as a deterrent because it takes away the financial motive for committing crime.

Proceeds from criminal forfeiture may be available to compensate eligible victims and help communities by funding crime prevention and remediation initiatives. A director of criminal asset management will be able to use the proceeds to pay costs associated with property management and disposal, such as those required to store, secure and sell property.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond said, “The Province is pursuing every avenue we have to seize and dispose of assets that are proceeds of crime or were used to commit a crime. Criminals can expect that we will take these assets and use them to fund crime prevention and remediation programs, and to compensate victims of crime.”

“We want to assure British Columbians that, if there is any way in which the Province can use these assets for the public good, criminals will not be allowed to benefit from the exploitation and suffering their victims have endured.”