VUZF Lab and the Union of Bulgarian Jurists conducted a workshop on measures against money laundering

On 19 May 2019 a workshop took place at Vuzf on the topic of “Measures against money laundering related to the freezing and forfeiture of assets in the context of national legislation and EU law” organized by VUZF Lab (the applied research center with the University of Finance, Business and Entrepreneurship) and the Union of Bulgarian Jurists.

The workshop presenter was Sava Petrov, prosecutor at the Supreme Cassation Prosecution Office.

The main topics covered during the workshop included:
-> anti-money laundering legislation in the context of international agreements to which Bulgaria is a party, and EU acts obliging member states to take the necessary measures; provisions of national legislation;
-> methods for international legal cooperation in criminal cases when investigating money laundering and the role of the national prosecution office;
-> methods for freezing and forfeiture of assets applied in Bulgaria in the context of international legal cooperation in combatting money laundering.

It was noted that the measures against money laundering were initially introduced in 1988 with the Vienna Convention which obliges all parties to it to establish as a criminal offence the laundering of money acquired through drug related crimes. Since the mid-1990s EU law obliges all member states to take all necessary legislative measures with a set of documents, including framework decisions, regulations and five directives. In Bulgaria, legislative measures against money laundering were first introduced in 1997 with the adoption of Articles 253, 253a and 253b of the Penal Code. Subsequently, a number of legislative documents were adopted, the major one being the Measures against Money Laundering Act which to date has been significantly amended three times.

The issues and topics discussed during the workshop included: international cooperation between the national prosecution office and the prosecution offices of other member states in combatting money laundering; actions taken by the Bulgarian prosecution office upon receipt of legal aid applications from foreign countries; steps followed by the prosecution office upon receiving the new European Investigation Order in criminal proceedings relating to money laundering; conditions for recognition and enforcement of a European arrest warrant in Bulgaria, and conditions for postponing or refusing to implement such a warrant; requirements for implementing and/or accepting modern media, such as interrogation via videoconferencing or audiovisual communication, obtaining information from bank accounts, etc.; procedure for collecting evidence in real-time and for access to electronic messages. The workshop also considered the methods for protection of persons against whom a European Investigation Order in criminal proceedings has been issued.

The methods for freezing and forfeiture of assets applied by prosecution offices were also discussed. Clarifications were made as to the role of prosecution offices at the stage of pending criminal proceedings, both at the pre-trial stage, and at the trial stage. The competence of the prosecution office for freezing and forfeiture of assets, both in “incoming” and “outgoing” legal aid applications, was also discussed. Q&A sessions took place concerning specific actions to be taken by the controlling authorities external to the prosecution offices, as well as regards the practical implementation of interaction procedures.

The workshop was one in a series of seminars and workshops dedicated to topical issues in case law in the financial domain which VUZF Lab and the Union of Bulgarian Jurists launched at the beginning of 2019. Their goal and mission is to support lawyers and economists by providing focused practical knowledge and skills and solutions to address specific issues.

The next specialized workshop organized jointly by VUZF Lab and Union of Bulgarian Jurists will be held on 28 June 2019 on the topic of “Management of financing from the European Structural and Investment Funds – case law challenges“. The workshop presenter will be Sonya Yankolova, judge at the Supreme Administrative Court.

Leave a Comment