Efforts to seize criminal cash rarely successful: Dutch researcher

Photo: OM
Photo: OM

The public prosecution department only succeeds in confiscating 20% of the assets officials try to take from convicted criminals, according to VU university researcher Edwin Kruisbergen.

Kruisbergen studied 102 major cases between 1995 and 2015 in which the authorities set out to seize as much of the criminal assets as possible, the AD reported on Monday.

In total, officials put in claims for €62m of which €27.5m was ruled in court to be justified. Of that, just €11.3m has been handed over by last year.

‘Criminals are bad payers,’ Kruisbergen told the AD. ‘There are two reasons. Some of them just don’t want to pay. Clever criminals know very well how to hide their money from the government.’

In other cases, criminals simply cannot pay, Kruisbergen said. ‘Judges do not always take the costs criminals have made into account,’ he said.

The public prosecution department told the AD it recognized Kruisbergen’s findings and that it had put more emphasis on seizing funds since 2011.

‘We’ve learned that you need to focus on the money at the start of an investigation,’ said spokeswoman Marieke van der Molen. ‘Has a suspect earned money and where is it? Sequestration orders should become part of the daily routine.’

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