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Ukraine’s Constitutional Court Rules Asset Forfeiture to be Lawful

On 30 June 2022, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine considered a constitutional submission of 47 Ukraine’s MPs regarding a special asset forfeiture mechanism provided in the Criminal Code of Ukraine with the Constitution of Ukraine, and ultimately found the mechanism to be constitutional.

According to a special asset-forfeiture procedure under Ukrainian criminal law, compulsory forfeiture of money, valuables and other property can be conducted without compensation in cases prescribed by law.

This asset forfeiture can be applied if money, valuables, and other property were:

  • obtained due to committing a criminal offence;
  • used to persuade a person to commit a criminal offence, to finance and/or provide material support for a criminal offence or to be rewarded for its commission;
  • found, manufactured, adjusted or used as the means of committing a criminal offence;
  • subject of a criminal offence, except in cases prescribed by law.

The authors of the submission argued that special asset forfeiture procedure duplicates confiscation (i.e. standard asset forfeiture), violates the principle of proportionality, and leads to infringement and deprivation of citizens of their fundamental rights and freedoms in Ukraine.

In its ruling, however, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine found that confiscation of property and special asset forfeiture are different according to their nature (i.e. punitive or non-punitive), grounds for application, subjects and objects. Thus, the court decided that special asset forfeiture is in compliance with provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine.

Because enforcement bodies often employ special asset forfeiture, this case marks an important precedent confirming the legality of this legal instrument in the criminal process.

Link to the full text of the decision: https://ccu.gov.ua/sites/default/files/docs/1-r2022_0.pdf

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