|Author (Corporate)||Cardiff EDC|
Information Guide concerning Case C-393/19 from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which relates to the confiscation of crime-related proceeds, instrumentalities and property.
An individual was employed by a Turkish company as the driver of an international freight lorry to make a journey from Turkey to Germany. In June 2018, he agreed to a proposal made to him to transport a number of antique coins illegally in the tractor used for his journey in return for payment. After crossing the border between Turkey and Bulgaria, the individual was subject to a customs check which resulted in the discovery of the coins concealed in the tractor unit.
During the investigation, the Turkish company sought the return of the tractor unit and trailer, arguing that it had no connection to the criminal offence and that the return of that property would not impede the investigation. The request was refused. In March 2019, the individual was convicted of aggravated smuggling. The coins and the tractor unit were seized for the benefit of the Bulgarian State. The trailer was returned to the Turkish company.
The Bulgarian Court of Appeal (Apelativen sad – Plovdiv) decided to submit a request for a preliminary ruling to the CJEU on whether Articles 17 and 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union precludes the Bulgarian legislation applicable to the case. On 14 January 2021, the CJEU clarified that a national rule permitting the confiscation of an instrumentality that was used to commit an aggravated smuggling offence but belongs to a third party acting in good faith is contrary to EU law. The Court added that owner of the confiscated property must have an effective remedy against that measure.
|Subject Categories||Justice and Home Affairs, Law|
|Subject Tags||Organised Crime|
|Keywords||CJEU Judgments, Illegal Trade | Smuggling
|Countries / Regions||Bulgaria|
|International Organisations||European Union [EU]|