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Avenues for Freezing Assets in the United States of Corrupt Foreign Officials:A Primer for Activists

Posted by This Day Online on 2005/10/02 | Views: 548 |

Avenues for Freezing Assets in the United States of Corrupt Foreign Officials:A Primer for Activists

The United States government has established the Department of Asset Forfeiture through the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

"The United States government has established the Department of Asset Forfeiture through the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Using the Patriot Act and other United States Criminal Forfeiture statutes, this office is designed to seize assets accumulated through criminal acts that either put the safety and lives of a population at risk, or act unethically in government or business. These acts include, but are not limited to: terrorism or supporting terrorist acts, narcotics trafficking, corruption (such as theft, extortion, fraud, and money laundering), and violence.

While it may be difficult to press direct charges against international criminals, the U.S. government is capable of seizing any assets used instrumentally in the crime itself. The U.S. definition of an “asset used instrumentally in a crime” is purposefully left flexible, but some examples might include: businesses through which money is laundered, assets acquired internationally in order to hide stolen funds, property in which narcotics are held or distributed, automobiles or other modes of transportation used directly to traffic narcotics, as well as scales or other items used directly to assist in the crime.

They are also capable of seizing assets that were the result of criminal acts such as homes, automobiles, or other valuables.

This office stresses the individuality of each case and the specificity of any investigation towards these criminal acts. It is therefore difficult to provide a set of guidelines in response to the recognition of these crimes. However, it is possible to alert this office to any specific acts worthy of investigation towards asset forfeiture and to hand the investigation, charges, and the search for punitivemeasures over to them.

However, since an investigation takes time and resources, it is therefore necessary to convince this office of the existence of a crime through evidence and proof.

The department acknowledges that the greatest difficulty lies in the burden of proof provided.

While it is possible to hand a case over for investigation through the U.S. Attorney’s Office, it is necessary to convince them that a criminal act has taken place and that it is worthy of an investigation.

Obviously, the more evidence to be brought to their attention, the more convincing one can be to ask them

to begin an investigation. Yet this office, once engaged, can offer unique capabilities in acquiring information that would be extremely difficult for any

group to produce. This includes obtaining bank records and property purchase agreements that may be difficult for a human rights or anti-corruption group to find.

The most important point is to gather as much pertinent and relevant information and evidence in order to convince the Department of Asset Forfeiture that a crime has been committed and an investigation must take place. Once the office has taken over the investigation, all possible attempts to seize any assets acquired through criminal acts will be taken.

They will then make any and all efforts to return moneys or property directly stolen from any individuals or groups.

The most important evidence to focus your efforts on, as well as possibly the most difficult to find, lie in the origin of the funds. If a group can prove wherelaundered or stolen money comes from, it is that much more possible to begin an investigation, freeze assets, and return money to the victims of the crime.

Once all resources for proof and evidence have been exhausted, it is then possible to present said evidence to this office. Evidence and a request for further investigation may be presented directly to the Department of Asset Forfeiture in the U.S. Attorney’s Office through Dan Claman at (202) 514-6340 or

The Department of Asset Forfeiture acknowledges that in certain cases, it may also be possible for a specific injured party to bring a private suit against a particular criminal and can handle the investigation

and suit themselves."

This story was sent in from the Justice Ministry of the United States

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Comments (6)

Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...


Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding