On Saturday 9 December 2017, World anti-corruption day, it is not a song from Johnny that Crim’HALT, Anticor, Metamorphosis and Deputy Watch, Paradis Fiscaux & Judiciaires have been singing even though they were not far from this parade.
While shouting “Guéant, give the apartment back”, those four associations were gathering together in front of the apartment of the former Interior Minister, in order to claim for its restitution to the citizens.
Based on the Italian legislative model that allows to provision associations with ill-gotten gains, an appropriate law passed in France could allow the reintroduction of those goods in the legal economy. It is about repairing, on the
national territory, the damages caused to civil society. For illustrative purposes, the four associations had to give to Mr Guéant a pack of Libera Terra crackers, produced on a land confiscated to Italian mafia.
To learn more:
The social use of confiscated properties has been voted within the French National Assembly on December 22, 2016, but refused by the Constitutional Council : Communiqué de presse : les biens confisqués échappent à la société civile !
In the case at hand, the property of the former minister has been immobilized by the French justice due to suspicions of tax fraud laundering, related to Libya. If this apartment, payed in cash for a total amount of over 700’000 euros, should be the outcome of corruption activities, it shall be returned to the damaged civil society. Considering the atrocities endured by migrants, our associations claim for its attribution to associations that help citizens who migrate.
In France, goods can only be definitively confiscated after the final conviction of the owner, a procedure that can last up to 10 years. However, even when no criminal conviction is held, which is the case of the former Interior Minister, still presumed innocent despite the two convictions (1st jurisdiction and appeal for misappropriation of public funds), the justice disposes of precautionary measures in order to sell the good before its final confiscation. The French justice could, therefore, provision associations with those goods, like it is done in Italy. If the owner should not be convicted, he could then recover the money.
That being said, it would be more efficient to pass a law on the confiscation of goods without the legal conviction of the owner. The defendant should then justify the legal origin of the good in front of a civil or administrative tribunal (with no incarceration risk). In case of failure in demonstrating its legal origin, the owner loses his good irrespective of the criminal trial.
- Article in french : Opération « Guéant rends l’appartement »