Over a period of five months since the establishment of a bureau to recover money and properties subject to Criminal Court Order for asset freezing or seizure enforced 19 cases of asset freezing. This was stated a first report compiled by the bureau which is presided by Emeritus Judge, Joseph D. Camilleri.
These consisted of 13 cases related to drugs, five cases related to fraud and a contraband case. The bureau commenced its operations last August as part of the strategy to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The report details that 21 persons were investigated, 11 of the persons being Maltese and of the ten others, half were Italian. The report by the Asset Recovery Bureau detailed that 83% of the assets involved were what is known as mobile assets, that is, bank accounts, shares and bonds, vehicles and boats, while 17% were immobile assets, including buildings.
The bureau also compiled assets inventories of persons involved in facing criminal procedures. These serve to present Court with a clearer picture of the assets of those accused and help Court to decide whether to issue seizure orders on properties and money if suspected these emanated from criminal activities such as fraud, drug trafficking and money laundering. Last year there were two cases in which the Court ordered the confiscation of assets of persons found guilty, although the assets seized amounted to less than €3,000, together with a vehicle.
The report states the bureau wants to continue strengthening and spreading cooperation with similar agencies overseas, particularly in view of the fact that almost half of the cases handled involved foreigners.