ArmInfo. The target of the law of the Republic of Armenia "On the recovery of property of illicit origin" should be corrupt officials engaged in money laundering and members of criminal groups. RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said this today at a meeting on the recovery of property without an indictment within the framework of the fight against corruption.
Opening the discussion, the Prime Minister noted that the need to recover property without a conviction was first mentioned in the 2004 UN Convention against Corruption. According to him, countries should take the necessary measures to allow the recovery of property without a conviction in cases where the offender cannot be prosecuted in cases of death, shelter, his absence or in other similar cases. The Republic of Armenia ratified this convention without any reservations in 2007.
To this end, since 2011, an interdepartmental commission has been formed to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism, which has discussed the possibility of introducing this system. In particular, he noted, at the 25th meeting of the commission in 2011, the 26th in 2012 and the 28th in 2013, a program of events was discussed and approved, on the basis of which the working group consisting of representatives of various departments The task was to present a program of activities for the implementation of this institution. Within the framework of the working group, documents were drawn up and put into circulation; discussions were organized with the participation of all interested departments.
To note, the Interdepartmental Commission on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, since 2008, has been headed by the Chairman of the Central Bank Arthur Javadyan for about 11 years, and the members are Deputy Prosecutor General, Deputy Minister of Justice, Deputy Chairman of the State Revenue Committee, Deputy Director National Security Service, Deputy Chief of Police, Assistant Prime Minister, Chairman of the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation, Deputy Minister Finance and 6 representatives of the administrative board agencies involved in combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
Already at the 34th meeting in 2018, the above-mentioned commission approved the concept of introducing the obligations of the accused to prove the legality of the property in cases of grave or especially grave crimes, on the basis of which a working group headed by the Ministry of Justice of all the above-mentioned with the participation of representatives of the Office of the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia to develop regulations in accordance with fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed by Constitution of Armenia. As for the essence of the institute, in order to avoid various comments out of context, we consider it necessary to emphasize the following specific features:
<First, the introduction of an institute for the recovery of property of illicit origin should not be considered as a penitentiary measure. On the contrary, this is a preventive measure by its nature, and, as noted in the "guidelines for the collection of property without a conviction", published by the World Bank initiative: "Recovery of stolen assets is not a criminal law punishment, does not have criminal law consequences".
As the prime minister noted, this institute is widely used in various countries for identifying and withdrawing shadow funds.
"Nevertheless, according to the above-mentioned document, one of the most important principles of the institute's implementation is also that" collecting property without a conviction should never be considered as an opportunity to avoid criminal punishment for crimes committed ", Pashinyan explained.
According to him, speaking of the recovery of property without a conviction, one cannot imply that the property is confiscated at all without a court decision. "The introduction of the institute for the recovery of property without a conviction is also primarily aimed at creating appropriate legal mechanisms within the framework of international cooperation related to the recognition of the courts of Armenia and foreign courts in the context of this institution," he said.
The Prime Minister considers it important to state that in the international conventions listed by us in connection with the implementation of institutions, in particular, in part 4 of Article 53 of the Council of Europe Convention <against money laundering, search, confiscation and confiscation of proceeds from crime and financing of terrorism>, states the possibility of countries making reservations on certain articles, including provisions relating to confiscation.
"The noted issues have already been discussed for quite a long time, and here we seem to arrive at a final conclusion," said Pashinyan, listing which international documents govern this institution: the UN Convention against Corruption; Council of Europe Convention "on combating money laundering, tracing, confiscation and confiscation of proceeds from crime" and the financing of terrorism.
According to him, in the context of combating money laundering, prior crimes and financing of terrorism, in accordance with the above conventions, the 4th mandate of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering) also establishes the obligation to enforce the collection of property without a conviction.
Pashinyan recalled that the above conventions were ratified by the Republic of Armenia in 2007 and 2008, and the obligation to implement the FATF instructions was due to the membership of the Republic of Armenia in the Council of Europe.
. <I also consider it necessary to state that the Republic of Armenia has carried out certain works with international structures on this topic. Such structures as the Council of Europe Commission addressed the implementation of this institution in Armenia. In 2015, the Commission approved the evaluation report of the 5th stage of implementation of the FATF instructions, which stipulates that the Republic of Armenia, in order to improve the practice of collecting property obtained by criminal means, should consider introducing collection institutions without a conviction. In 2018, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development approved a report on the conformity assessment of the Republic of Armenia of the UN Convention against Corruption, which stated that the institution of collecting property without a conviction was not introduced in the Republic of Armenia, calling for the republic to implement this institution, "Pashinyan said .
He stressed that this is a natural process. <And, of course, there is also some connection with political processes, because, by and large, it was hard to believe that without the changes that occurred in Armenia, this institution could be implemented. But now we have a task not only to simply introduce this institute, but also to solve some issues, "said Pashinyan.
According to him, it is necessary to make sure that this is an effective mechanism for the return of stolen assets, but this should not become an instrument of political vendetta. "But it's also very important for us that the fight against corruption in the Republic of Armenia be shifted from the declarative level to the institutional one," he said. At the same time, Pashinyan considered it important to ensure the protection of human rights in the whole process so that it does not harm the country's image.
<I want to say that today, in terms of a purely investment environment, we have very specific problems that we face. You know that both the Special Investigation Service and the Investigation Committee, if I am not mistaken, have already in certain cases transferred certain information to the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development so that previously illegally privatized property will be returned to the state. For example, I have very emotional responses from specific investors when they are faced with illogical prices for acquiring land in some place, that is, owners of several million dollars are trying to sell some property that was acquired, say, at ridiculous prices. . We must understand how to solve these problems, "Pashinyan said.
Further, issues related to the introduction and application of the institute for the recovery of property acquired illegally without a conviction were discussed.
Nikol Pashinyan once again emphasized that the issue of collecting property without an indictment is important in terms of conducting a real anti-corruption struggle, and the legal mechanisms for protecting human rights aimed at it, ensuring bank secrecy must meet the best international standards.
The head of government instructed to summarize the submitted draft law and send it for international expertise.