Andranik Tevanyan, director of the “Political Economy” Research Institute, said in a March 5 report of the 168.am news website that the Law on Confiscation of Illegal Property can practically be applied to all citizens, including “those who applaud to that law today.”
“Here is the problem… First of all, a property worth more than 25 million AMD means that it will cover practically everyone, and if there is a targeted approach to the ownership right in the initial stage, later it can be applied to all the people” Tevanyan said.
It should be noted that on March 5 the National Assembly adopted a package of laws on Confiscation of Property of Illegal Origin and related laws (submitted by the Government) in the first reading. These laws authorize the court to confiscate property, the acquisition of which is not substantiated by sources of legitimate income.
Who can the Law on Confiscation of Property of Illegal Origin be applied to?
Article 22 of the draft law states that property of illegal origin is liable to confiscation if, on the basis of the evidence presented, the court concludes that the market value of such property exceeds 25 million at the time of the claim.
However, this does not mean that they can apply to the court for confiscation of any citizen’s property over 25 million AMD.
Article 5 of the Draft Law clearly defines the circumstances which may serve as bases for starting an investigation. Accordingly, the Prosecutor’s Office may initiate a property investigation and apply to the court mainly for the purposes of corruption-related offenses.
According to the first paragraph, the prosecutor’s office may start an investigation if there is a legally valid verdict and there is data on the origin of the illegal property. That is to say, the man was found guilty of a corruption crime, but the property was not confiscated within the scope of the verdict. An investigation can also be conducted among affiliated persons.
Another basis for initiating an investigation may be as follows: if there is a criminal case initiated, the defendant is involved and there is good reason to suspect that there is property of illegal origin.
Paragraph 3: If there are sufficient grounds to suspect that there is property of illegal origin but initiating a criminal case is impossible or an amnesty law has been passed or the statute of limitations has expired or the person has died or the person has not reached at the time of the act the age of criminal liability provided by law.
Paragraph 4: If there are reasonable grounds to suspect that property of illegal origin exists, but the criminal case initiated in connection with the commission of any of the offenses set forth herein has been suspended on one of the grounds set forth in Article 31 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code ( for example, it is not known who should be involved as a defendant in the case, the accused has been hiding from investigation or trial, or his whereabouts have not been disclosed for other reasons, the defendant or the person with sufficient grounds to be involved as a defendant in the case enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution, etc.).
Paragraph 5: If, as a result of operative-intelligence activities, there is good reason to suspect that the official or his affiliated person owns property of illegal origin. This is the basis that applies exclusively to officials.
An investigation may also be initiated when there is a need for international assistance.
Thus, we can state that the prosecutor’s office cannot be arbitrarily interested in the difference between a citizen’s income and property. It can be done based on the above grounds, that is, if the person is involved in corruption cases, etc. Only in the case of former and current officials can the operative intelligence data serve as bases for the investigation.