Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to trace the historical foundations of forfeiture from antiquity to its migration into early criminal law statutes. From there the discussion turns to gaps in the law that gained recognition with the emergence of globalized economies and the development of technologies that allowed illicit wealth to be moved transnationally with ease and stealth. The balance of the paper will give an overview of the countermeasures taken in response to these gaps. The paper concludes with comment on the recent spread of non‐conviction‐based asset forfeiture laws and the practical use to which these laws can be put in relation to the tracing, seizing and forfeiture of illicitly acquired wealth. Design/methodology/approach – The paper opted for a historical legal review of the development of forfeiture laws in common law jurisdictions. Findings – The paper traces the development of the origins of forfeiture in the common law. It lays out the original compensatory objectives of forfeiture and its eventual migration into the criminal law. The paper describes how non‐conviction‐based asset forfeiture has evolved in modern times as a response to gaps in the criminal law that have been exposed by the pernicious aspects of globalized economies and the ease with which electronic intangible assets can be moved and beneficial ownership obscured. Originality/value – This paper provides an overview of the origins of forfeiture law and traces the use and adaptation of that law as an emerging and effective response to transnational money laundering.
Journal of Money Laundering Control – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 8, 2014
Keywords: Anti‐money laundering; Proceeds of crime; Civil forfeiture; Forfeiture; Mutual legal assistance treaty; Non‐conviction asset forfeiture
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