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Frontpage News 2017 Teaming up with Council of Europe to better fight crime

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Through language trainings and introduction to good practices and methods applied by the Council of Europe, the Commission for Illegal Asset Forfeiture in Bulgaria aims to improve the asset recovery system in Bulgaria. Photographer: Christophe Vander Eecken

Teaming up with Council of Europe to better fight crime

  • With support from Norway, Bulgarian investigators are improving their skills and methods in order to better fight crime and recover illegal assets from criminals.

    “We investigate and confiscate assets that are illegally acquired and return them to the state or to the victims of the crime,” explains Dimo Grozdev from the Commission for Illegal Asset Forfeiture in Bulgaria. The Commission is running a project aiming to improve and streamline the asset recovery system in Bulgaria. Currently, they recover around € 7.5 million per year. This could be assets – money, real estate, gold etc. - from crimes such as trafficking in human beings, briberies, thefts etc. The confiscation can take place after a court decision.

    The project is supported under the ‘Schengen cooperation and combating cross-border crime’ programme in Bulgaria funded by Norway.

    Learning from other countries

    “Nowadays we see a lot of trans-border crimes and it is therefore important for us to communicate better with colleagues in other countries and learn from their experiences, methods and practices,” says Grozdev. An important part of the project is therefore to improve the capacity of the Commission by training its staff in languages, good practices and methods from other countries and international legislation, thus enabling them to identify money laundering, offshore assets and all in all improve the asset recovery system in Bulgaria.

    How can we increase human rights competences within the courts? Read about the Bulgarian judges that were sent for a placement in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg to gain more knowledge in application of human rights law.

    corruption Bulg Dimo Grozdev from the Commission for Illegal Asset Forfeiture, explains that the aim of the project is to enable Bulgarian investigators to better fight crime and recover illegal assets from criminals. Photo credit: Christophe Vander Eecken
     

    “Our colleagues need training and to improve their investigative practices. The opportunity to network and pick up best practices from abroad is very valuable. We had a lack of training opportunities, and the Norway Grants project is the only opportunity we had to improve our skills and methods,” explains Grozdev.

    140 people - lawyers, economists, former police officers etc. - are working in the Commission for Illegal Asset Forfeiture in Bulgaria.

    Council of Europe - an important partner

    The Council of Europe is contributing to the project as a partner. They make assessments of the legal system for asset recovery in Bulgaria and help organise training and capacity building seminars by inviting high-level experts.

    “The cooperation is very fruitful and the partnership has contributed a lot to the project and the capacity building of the Commission,” Grozdev concludes.

    Would you like to read other stories from Bulgaria? Through the Grants, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway support several projects in Bulgaria. You can read about some of them here:

    More than 2400 police officers in Bulgaria have received training in order to increase their skills and knowledge when working in Roma communities. Read about the project that has worked to prevent and reduce the incidents of human rights violations by police acting in multi-ethnic communities.

    Through a project funded by Norway, the Bulgarian National Legal Aid Bureau (NLAB) has introduced two entirely new services providing legal consultation free of charge – services that were not earlier available in Bulgaria.

  • Country:

    Bulgaria


    Project title:

    Improving the Asset Recovery system in Bulgaria (AR-Bulgaria)

    Project number:

    BG13-0012

    Priority sector:

    Justice and Home Affairs

    Grant:

    € 828778

    Status:

    In Progress

    Project promoter:

    Commission for Illegal Assets Forfeiture

    Type of Institution:

    Government ministry

    Project duration:

    30 months

    Project cost:

    € 975,033

    Grant from:

    Norway Grants

    Partner: Council of Europe Objective: Increased effectiveness and efficiency of the Asset Recovery system in Bulgaria Organization of brainstorming workshop with institutions involved in asset recovery; Preparation of a comprehensive Assessment/Study on institutional and legal framework; Road mapping and provision of min one multi-disciplinary training on the implementation of the asset recovery legislation; Road mapping related one multi-disciplinary training on institutional roles and their set up for cooperation and exchange of information; Provision of a workshop on exchange of good practices for the Commission and all cooperating institutions; Provision of one multi-disciplinary training on AR system based on the needs assessment in the Action plan; Provision of one specialized training in Bulgaria for Commission and other institutions staff by experts from European countries as well as on court decisions; One training course in specialized English legal and administrative terminology for the Commission and other relevant institutions staff; Supply of the equipment and training by the contractor (the video-conferencing system).