This post explains the difference between confiscation, forfeiture, restraint, sequestration, seizing, freezing, civil recovery and asset recovery. This is to help you understand what is in the news, whichever country you are in.
These terms are all lawful ways to deprive people of the proceeds of crime in litigation against criminals or criminal assets. They are all English words with everyday meanings but also technical terms which are frequently used wrongly by journalists, lawmakers and commentators. Unfortunately they have also been wrongly used in English translations of foreign legislation and technical papers.
It is a crime, the crime of handling the proceeds of other crimes. National criminal offence definitions must conform to the United Nations’ Conventions (UNCAC, UNTOC and Narcotics) which all have identical wording to describe money laundering. None of the definitions use the words “money” or “laundering”. Athough the criminal offence is new, the activity is as old as crime itself. The first money launderer was Eve, Adam’s wife, when she took the fruit from the forbidden tree.
Modern confiscation in the UK can be divided into three main phases lasting about 15 years each. From 1971 to 1986 (instrumentalities only), 1986 to 2002 (direct proceeds), 2003 to 2017 (direct, indirect and criminal lifestyle proceeds).