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Seizure of assets in criminal cases

Combating fraud and remedying the consequences of economic crime would not be possible without the seizure of assets institution. Despite the fact that asset freezing is an institution that is used quite often in practice, there is still no awareness of this institution or underestimation of its practical possibilities.

When to apply for asset seizure?

The provision of Article 291 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides, i.e., that when an offence against property has been committed or damage to property has been caused by a criminal offence, security for damage claims may be applied automatically. Further provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure indicate that asset freezing may be applied by the court or the public prosecutor already in the pre-trial proceedings at an advanced stage, when the person of the suspect is “defined” and – obviously – when the assets of the suspect that may be subject to freezing are determined. It is clear from these provisions that the seizure is intended to serve the real possibility of enforcing future claims against the accused.

What are the ways of seizing financial claims?

The seizure itself takes place in the methods specified in the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure and may consist in:

  1. seizure of movable property, remuneration for work, receivables from a bank account or other receivables or other property rights;
  2. imposing a forced mortgage on the obligor’s real estate;
  3. imposing a prohibition to sell or mortgage real property which does not have an established land and mortgage register or the land and mortgage register of which has been lost or destroyed;
  4. imposing a prohibition on the disposal of a joint ownership right to premises;
  5. imposing a forced administration over an enterprise or an agricultural estate of the obligor or an establishment forming part of the enterprise or a part thereof or a part of the obligor’s agricultural estate.

How to obtain an asset seizure?

The public prosecutor or the court may make seizure automatically, and since this is the case, such action may also be initiated by an appropriate request from the injured party. An application for security may also be filed by the attorney of the injured party. The application for freezing the assets is not subject to any fee. In the seizure order, the prosecutor/court should specify the person of the suspect, the assets to be secured and the scope of the seizure (value).

What are the advantages of imposing an asset seizure?

An undoubted advantage, from the point of view of the injured party, is the possibility to act in criminal proceedings at an early stage, where it is the prosecutor who decides on access to the information collected in these proceedings. In such conditions, certain actions of the prosecutor may come as a surprise to the suspect. This can have a huge impact on the real possibility of compensation. Indeed, practice provides sufficient examples that a hurry in cases involving suspects’ assets is advisable.

The effectiveness and advisability of seizures depend to a large extent on the efficiency of the prosecutor and the initiative of the victim. So if you or your company has been a victim of fraud, contact our criminal fraud lawyers. With our experience, you will have the chance to pursue your claim and recover your losses.

Author team leader DKP Legal Marta Oleśkowska
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