Bulgaria to Toughen Crack-Down on Illegal Assets in 2012
Bulgarian authorities are likely to have the right to seize unexplained wealth, worth more than BGN 150,000, without a conviction as of January 1, 2012.
This is when the long-delayed bill authorizing widespread confiscation of illegally obtained assets is expected to enter into force.
The Council of Europe's Venice Commission has made this recommendation after approving the final, fifth version of the draft law. Bulgaria's Justice Minister Margarita Popova, who initiated the law, attended the commission's session in Venice.
The commission has called on Bulgaria's parliament to pass the new law by its summer recess. The European Commission, which sees the legislation as a powerful weapon in the country's corruption combat, has set the same deadline.
The law will allow the state Commission for Establishing of Property Acquired from Criminal Activity to probe the property and bank account of members of the families of people who cannot explain their sources of income in court and their partners.
Donations made in order to hide assets from the commission will also be subject to probes. Under the law transactions with criminally acquired property will be void and subject to forfeiture. So if the holders of illegal assets get rid of them by selling them quickly at low prices, buyers can also be held accountable.
The commission will have the right to launch investigations into incomes and acquisitions for the last fifteen years.
The body has seized assets worth BGN 10.8 M since its establishment in 2005.
The current center-right government of Bulgaria, led by Boyko Borisov, was elected almost two years ago on an anti-corruption mandate and on the promise to bring to justice those involved in huge-scale corruption schemes.
Some embezzlement trials against high-ranking officials have been widely considered to be a litmus test for the government's willingness to do so in practice, but most of them have ended with acquittals.
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"Some embezzlement trials against high-ranking officials have been widely considered to be a litmus test for the government's willingness to do so in practice, but most of them have ended with acquittals."
That will probably be because the people involved in the prosecution are the ones receiving the bribes. Not rocket science when you consider the basic attitude of most Bulgarians is grab what you can from where you can with no thought as to possible consequenses.