Bill 58 Would Bring Enhanced Measures to Enable Courts, Law Enforcement to Move Quickly to Ensure Criminal Assets Do Not Disappear: Friesen


The Manitoba government has distributed new legislation that would enable the courts and law enforcement to act quickly to prevent criminals from disposing of suspected criminal property, Justice Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.

“Growing evidence shows that organized crime, has too much opportunity to move proceeds of crime to avoid civil forfeiture,” said Friesen. “Bill 58: the Criminal Property Forfeiture Amendment Act, would enable courts and law enforcement to move more quickly to ensure criminal assets cannot be moved beyond the need of law enforcement and the court. This way, the recouped funds can continue to be invested in community initiatives that benefit Manitobans.”

Under the current law, forfeiture proceedings have to begin before a person is required to answer questions about property believed to be an instrument or proceeds of unlawful activity and before a court may make an order preventing the person from disposing of the property.

Bill 58 would allow the court to make two new types of orders before forfeiture proceedings begin:
• a preliminary preservation order that prevents a person from disposing of the property if the court is satisfied there is a serious issue to be tried in forfeiture proceedings; and
• a preliminary disclosure order that requires a person to answer questions related to how they acquired property when there are reasonable grounds to suspect that property is an instrument or proceeds of unlawful activity.

“With banking on smartphones and other technological advances, moving assets has become simple, easy and instant,” said Friesen. “This legislation allows police and courts to move quickly to ensure illegal proceeds of crime cannot be moved and hidden prior to commencing proceedings. These changes would put Manitoba at the forefront of addressing organized crime and money laundering. Ultimately, this protects our communities and ensures criminals do not benefit from criminal activity.”

The minister noted these orders would still require judicial authorization and oversight, and said the proposed legislation includes the ability of the court to reject the application for either order if it would clearly not be in the interests of justice.

The new legislation would also improve operational efficiency and ensure the legislation aligns with civil forfeiture legislation in other jurisdictions and is consistent with court decisions in the area of civil forfeiture.

In Manitoba, cash and proceeds from the sale of forfeited property are deposited into the Criminal Property Forfeiture (CPF) Fund, which is used to:
• compensate victims of the unlawful activity that led to the forfeiture of the property;
• funding Victim Services;
• promote safer communities by investing in specialized equipment/training for law enforcement agencies; and
• promote safer communities by providing funding to law enforcement agencies for community initiatives.

For more information about criminal property forfeiture, visit:
www.gov.mb.ca/justice/commsafe/cpf/index.html.

Media Release below.

https://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=50938&posted=2021-03-09