Chief Justice of the Supreme Court calls for the investigation of money laundering cases with particular precision
7 October, 2021
"As the well-being of the country's population depends on a clean and transparent economy, our common goal is to make Latvia an inconvenient and even dangerous place for money launderers," said the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Aigars Strupišs when addressing participants of the international symposium "Money Laundering: Current Trends and Future Challenges".
The Chief Justice acknowledged that although the topic of money laundering is not new, its relevance is not diminishing and is unlikely to diminish. He emphasized the particular professionalism that needs to be applied when dealing with these cases: "Due to the procedural nature of money laundering cases (e.g., evidentiary standards and the burden of proof), this category of cases stands much closer to potential human rights violations than criminal cases based on classical criminal evidentiary standards and other standards. Therefore, particular attention should be paid to the surgical precision with which these procedural steps are performed."
There are reports from the courts that investigations tend to hold back cases, although no investigative action is taken. Proceedings on criminally acquired property are often brought to court at the last minute, before the maximum statutory period for seizure of property expires, although in most cases no relevant information is obtained after obtaining the initial evidence and receiving personal explanations. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court always calls to consider whether it is worth restricting a person's rights for such a long time, because the law allows to separate the proceedings and bring them to court if, for objective reasons, it is not possible to bring the main criminal proceedings to court in the near future.
There are also sometimes problems regarding the fact that a person directing the proceedings blindly repeat the reasoning expressed in the report of the Financial Intelligence Service as evidence in the decisions to transfer the proceedings to court, even though the owner of the property has already refuted it with evidence. It must not be so! - points out the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, as these are human rights issues that need to be treated with the utmost caution.
Aigars Strupišs emphasized that in any case the courts act and will act in accordance with the law, that is, they will examine cases, will objectively evaluate the submitted evidence and will adopt rulings. The quality of the work of the courts depends very much on the quality of the investigation, the quality of the prosecution and also on the quality of the defence.
In conclusion, the Chief Justice reminded that there is no point in fighting money laundering in one country. Successfully combating money laundering requires coordinated international work based on identical standards in all countries. Otherwise, there will simply be a change of place of laundering, but dirty money will still continue to circulate around the world.
The symposium “Money Laundering: Current Trends and Future Challenges” is organized on October 7 and 8 by the State Police in cooperation with the US Embassy in Latvia. It is an international professional development event for law enforcement, prosecutorial and judicial staff to provide insights into good practice in the fight against money laundering and proceeds of crime to discuss the possibility of joint investigative practices at international level.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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