Manitoba targets proceeds of crime
Manitoba's Justice Department is creating a special unit to seize, freeze and sell the proceeds of crime.
Justice Minister Dave Chomiak said Tuesday creation of the new unit follows consultations with more than 100 Canadian and U.S. experts on crime and forfeited property.
Amendments to Manitoba's Criminal Property Forfeiture Act to set up the specialized unit come into effect this weekend.
"Organized crime is destabilized when we get at the money it generates," said Chomiak. "The changes we've made to [existing] legislation will help the province play a more active role in doing just that."
The special unit will focus exclusively on forfeiture cases. It will be authorized to seize real estate, cash and vehicles. Property ordered forfeited by a court can be sold, donated or destroyed.
Property belonging to a member of a criminal organization is presumed to have been acquired by criminal activity unless there is evidence to the contrary, Chomiak said. That presumption also applies to businesses used as fronts for organized crime, he said.
Protection for innocent third parties who have legitimate interests in the property is built into the legislation, the minister said.
A new fund for the proceeds from the sale of forfeited property has also been established and money from the fund can be used to:
- cover the costs of bringing the court application, and seizing, managing and selling property ordered forfeited by a court;
- compensate direct victims of the unlawful activity;
- provide grants to support police training and public safety initiatives; and
- remedy the effects of the illegal activity.