YEREVAN, March 6. /ARKA/. On Thursday, the National Assembly of Armenia passed in the first reading a draft law on confiscation of illegally acquired property.
Minister of Justice Rustam Badasyan said the draft law was evaluated by eight international organizations and calls for the introduction of a mechanism for pre-trial confiscation of illegally acquired property. He said the charges of illegally acquired property can be refuted by the defendant if he provides legal grounds for acquiring it.
Badasyan noted that this mechanism in various forms has been introduced in Italy, Iceland, Australia, Bulgaria, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. “The draft law aims to adopt the best practices in the fight against asset trafficking, proposed by international organizations and reference documents,” he said.
He said also a study into the legality of one’s property may started if such signals emerge during consideration of criminal cases.
Badasyan stated that property is subject to confiscation if the owner cannot prove that a property worth more than 25 million drams (about $ 52.2 thousand) is justified by legal sources of income.
Part of the confiscated property may be released from custody by a court order so that the defendant has the opportunity to pay for housing and the services of a lawyer.
The draft law also indicates that an amicable settlement is possible at a certain stage, and it is noted that the subject of the agreement cannot be less than 75% of the cost of the unjustified property.
Edmon Marukyan from the opposoition Bright Armenia said the proposed 25 million drams should be increased. According to the deputy, this ceiling would create potentially big problems, because of which innocent citizens may suffer.
To this, the minister replied that the difference between the indicated amount of property and the average annual salary in the UK is 1.7 times, in Bulgaria – 3.3 times, and in Armenia, the difference is 10 times.
Regarding the fact that the draft law has retroactive force, Badasyan noted that in one of the cases the European Court of Human Rights indicated that since the mechanism applied does not bear the character of punishment, the court did not consider the retroactive effect of the law unacceptable.