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Friday, 19 August 2011

working to seize $7M in criminal property


02:03 |

Nearly $7 million in real estate, cash, jewelry and other allegedly ill-gotten assets are frozen in Manitoba right now as a result of the province’s criminal property forfeiture process.

The NDP government first introduced the Criminal Property Forfeiture Act in 2003 as a way to deter crime by allowing the province to seize the assets of convicted gangsters. However, that version of the law was never once used because it put the onus on police to facilitate the process — something Winnipeg police refused to do.

The law was re-written in 2007, creating a standalone provincial unit to manage the seizures and court process. Since then 25 cases have been successfully resolved, resulting in $1.62 million worth of reclaimed assets.

“We haven’t lost one yet,” said Gord Schumacher, Manitoba’s director of criminal property forfeiture. “So far it’s been a tremendous success.”

The money from the sale of the seized assets pays for court costs and other expenses related to the process, with the remainder used to compensate victims of the crimes in question and subsidize policing.

“About a month ago we sent $153,000 back into the police community,” Schumacher said.

Any property that’s used for, or purchased thanks to, illegal activity can be seized.

“Once we make the decision to go after a house, it’s because we know the owner knew what was going on,” Schumacher said. “In many cases they don’t even know we existed, but I don’t really feel sorry for them.”

 


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