Some Countries Fight Organized Crime with a Tool Called Unexplained Wealth Orders

By Carlton Purvis
In Ireland, the UWO has support from both the public and law enforcement and is being regularly used to combat organized crime. There are criticisms of UWO use, however. Critics of the practice say it encourages law enforcement take out unnecessary UWOs as a revenue stream. But Deville explained that the government is not allowed to take control of the assets obtain through a UWO for seven years (and the money goes straight to the general funds). There have been no media reports or complaints of abuse UWOs, Deville said.
The UWO statute in Australia has been in effect for nearly a year and hasn’t been quite as successful as it has in Ireland because of how it is treated by the courts and the public. “Initial reports indicate that the courts consider it an overreaction in response to crime,” Jeffrey White, senior associate at Booz Allen Hamilton said. No cases have been heard federally and only two on the state level, Deville said. “It’s just not popular in Australia,” he said.
The law enforcement community in Australia has shown enthusiasm about UWOs, but academics and attorneys are concerned that it could turn into an abuse of power – the same concerns that Americans would have if something similar were implemented, he noted.
Ireland’s success could be a jumping off point for a dialogue in other countries where organized crime keeps money flowing into the pockets of crime bosses, but something similar may not go over well in the United Sates legal system because of reversal of the burden of proof. For something similar to work in the United States, the U.S. Justice Department would have to present it as “palatable and effective,” Ohr said.
June 2011: Bulgaria to implement unxeplained wealth laws from Sofia News Agency
June 2009: Criminals with unexplained wealth to lose assetts  from The Sydney Herald

photo by from flickr


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