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COLEMAN: PROVE GOODS WERE BOUGHT LEGALLY

By Alfa, Sep 27, 2004 | |
  1. Alfa
    COLEMAN: PROVE GOODS WERE BOUGHT LEGALLY OR THEY'RE GONE

    The provincial government is looking at legislating civil means for seizing
    property purchased with money earned through illegal activity.

    Current provisions under the Criminal Code of Canada for forfeiting property
    are too "onerous and difficult," said solicitor general Rich Coleman,
    pointing to the "bureaucracy" that makes it difficult to pursue seizing
    cars, homes and bank accounts of those involved in criminal activity.

    "We think there's a lot bigger burden that needs to be put on the backs of
    the criminal," Coleman said.

    His ministry is currently working on legislation that he hopes will be
    introduced in the fall or spring legislative session.

    Currently, they are going through the legal implications of the legislation,
    and watching a charter challenge of the civil forfeiture legislation in
    place in Ontario.

    Coleman believes civil proceeds of crime legislation should work like
    billing in tax law. If a business is audited and found to not be following
    the rules, a bill could be sent to the business, with the "reverse onus" on
    the business owner to show that he reported his finances correctly in the
    past six years, Coleman said by way of example.

    In a grow operation, Coleman said, vehicles and bank accounts could be
    seized.

    "You now have to prove to us that you bought this with legal money," Coleman
    said.

    Coleman is also pushing the federal ministry responsible for Canada Revenue
    Agency to become more actively involved in forfeiture of ill-gotten
    property.

    In the past, there was a relationship between law enforcement and Revenue
    Canada, which would go after property obtained through illegal activity.

    That has fallen away and needs to be tightened, Coleman said.

    And although Coleman said there has been some success seizing property
    through current means - some $4 million from proceeds of crime was put into
    fighting organized crime last year - he wants to open up more opportunities
    to take a financial hit at those involved in criminal activity.

    "I think we need to use any tool we can," he said.

    If the civil legislation is passed, money obtained would be reinvested into
    law enforcement, Coleman said.

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