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Old 10th October 2018, 05:49 AM   #1
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Civil forfeiture - how it should be done?

BBC News: Woman who spent 16m in Harrods revealed

"A woman fighting to keep her 11.5m London home, after becoming the first target for the UK's new UK anti-corruption law, has been named as Zamira Hajiyeva.

Mrs Hajiyeva - who is originally from Azerbaijan - lost a legal battle to stay anonymous after the media argued the public should know the full facts.

The wife of a former state banker spent 16m in Harrods over a decade.

She also bought a house close to the store - and a golf course in Berkshire.

The High Court has ordered her to explain the source of her wealth - and she risks losing her property if she cannot do so.

Under the terms of the UK's first ever Unexplained Wealth Order, Mrs Hajiyeva, 55, must now provide the National Crime Agency with a clear account of how she and her husband, Jahangir Hajiyev, could afford to buy their large home in the exclusive London neighbourhood of Knightsbridge.

Mrs Hajiyeva's lawyers said the UWO "does not and should not be taken to imply any wrong-doing", by her or her husband. They have applied for permission to appeal against the order."
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Old 10th October 2018, 05:51 AM   #2
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Civil forfeiture - how it should be done?

It shouldn't. /thread.
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Old 10th October 2018, 05:55 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Civil forfeiture - how it should be done?

It shouldn't. /thread.
You should probably read the article.
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Old 10th October 2018, 05:57 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Information Analyst View Post
You should probably read the article.
I did.
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:01 AM   #5
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Normally I would agree, especially the US style with no recourse but:

"Jahangir Hajiyev is the former chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan.

He was jailed in 2016 for 15 years after being convicted of being part of a major fraud and embezzlement that saw tens of millions of pounds disappear from the bank. Judges also ordered him to repay $39m."

"During her unsuccessful challenge to the Unexplained Wealth Order, Mrs Hajiyeva said her husband was a legitimate businessman who had become independently wealthy thanks to a string of successful businesses, before becoming a chairman at the bank.

"But the National Crime Agency told the court that Mr Hajiyev had been a state employee between 1993 and 2015 - and as an official he would not have had the means to amass the wealth investigators have traced."
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:01 AM   #6
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"It's okay we're only going to use this against the really, really, really bad people"
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:07 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
"It's okay we're only going to use this against the really, really, really bad people"
That is the nature of all laws, and the enforcement of them. The US version of this is, as far as I am aware, deeply corrupt, but that does not mean the principle is wrong.
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by fagin View Post
Normally I would agree, especially the US style with no recourse
The point is, though, that it's not how it's done in the States, which as you say often leaves the person deprived of what may be completely honestly-obtained money/assets without any recourse. It's probably a foregone conclusion, based on the husband's established criminality, but she will have her day in court to try to account for how they obtained so much money.

The UK has - quite rightly - been castigated of late for having so much dirty money sloshing around in the country, and this seems an admirable first step in starting to address that.

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Old 10th October 2018, 06:22 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
"It's okay we're only going to use this against the really, really, really bad people"
I don't understand. If the family is suspected of acquiring their wealth illegally, shouldn't we investigate that?
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:28 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I don't understand. If the family is suspected of acquiring their wealth illegally, shouldn't we investigate that?
I think Joe's problem is the burden of proof is reversed, she has to prove she got the money honestly, rather than the government proving it is the proceeds of crime.

He has a point, but I don't think the UK' s policy of rolling out the welcome mat to corrupt oligarchs and turning a blind eye to where their money came from is a great idea either.
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:29 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I don't understand. If the family is suspected of acquiring their wealth illegally, shouldn't we investigate that?
That's the problem. The only way investigate something like this is to pretty much literally make "You have too much money" illegal, or at least legally suspicious and that's a can of worms.

Again if you trust your government's "Don't worry guys we're only going to use this on bad people we couldn't get to any other way, scout's honor we're being super serious here guys" by all means, but that's the same line we got sold here in America back during Prohibition and because we bought it last year alone law enforcement agencies just straight up up stole 2.5 billion dollars in money and personal assets with no conviction, no trial, and no due process and no way for the people it was taken from to get it back, even if they are later exonerated of the crimes they were accused of, if they were even ever actually accused of anything.

This is how it starts and a few decades later it's literally that law enforcement can take anything they want from you with zero reason.
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:34 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
That's the problem. The only way investigate something like this is to pretty much literally make "You have too much money" illegal, or at least legally suspicious and that's a can of worms.
I'm not sure how you get that. Plenty of people in the UK have plenty of money, but since it's obvious how they got it, it never becomes "suspicious" in the first place.
Quote:
Again if you trust your government's "Don't worry guys we're only going to use this on bad people we couldn't get to any other way, scout's honor we're being super serious here guys" by all means, but that's the same line we got sold here in America back during Prohibition and because we bought it last year alone law enforcement agencies just straight up up stole 2.5 billion dollars in money and personal assets with no conviction, no trial, and no due process and no way for the people it was taken from to get it back, even if they are later exonerated of the crimes they were accused of, if they were even ever actually accused of anything.
Operative differences.

Quote:
This is how it starts and a few decades later it's literally that law enforcement can take anything they want from you with zero reason.
Which is not a given. American law was built on English law, yet has diverged significantly in many areas over the same time period.

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Old 10th October 2018, 06:35 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
That's the problem. The only way investigate something like this is to pretty much literally make "You have too much money" illegal, or at least legally suspicious and that's a can of worms.
Don't they already have evidence of wrongdoing?
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:38 AM   #14
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The money is still taken without a conviction even in the British system.

And again that's how it started in America. But that sort of thing is too tempting and is way too easy to chip away at over the years. The burden of proof to take it gets lower, the burden of proof to get it back gets higher.

Honestly if you don't see the almost inevitability of misuse in a "We're gonna take your money and put the onus back on you to prove you earned it" precedent, I don't know what to tell you.
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:39 AM   #15
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The problem could have been solved much sooner:

"The Home Office gave Mrs Hajiyeva permission to live in the UK under a visa scheme for wealthy investors."

Surely every single one of these cases (that may or may not be brought) can be traced back to the Home Office giving leave to remain in the UK? And suddenly we're now worried about letting in dodgy people?
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:40 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Don't they already have evidence of wrongdoing?
Oh I'm sure these people in this particular case are dirty as hell.

And I'm just soooooo sure that's where it's gonna stop.

And if law enforcement has evidence of wrong doing... why not just arrest them and take any illegally gotten good away from them after the fact?

If you're worried about them using their funds to evade you can even do an asset freeze during an open investigation.

But the story we're being told is that the only way to stop these people is for the government to take their money and convict them later if at all.

1. That's suspicious as hell.
2. That's the story we got in the states as well.
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:42 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
That's the problem. The only way investigate something like this is to pretty much literally make "You have too much money" illegal, or at least legally suspicious and that's a can of worms.

Not at all. If Elon lived here he'd go "Here, it all comes from this.", J K Rowling would show you her book sales, Peter Jones would show you his accounts, Paul McCartney would show you his writing credits. This list can be almost as long as you'd like it to be.
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:42 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
The problem could have been solved much sooner:

"The Home Office gave Mrs Hajiyeva permission to live in the UK under a visa scheme for wealthy investors."

Surely every single one of these cases (that may or may not be brought) can be traced back to the Home Office giving leave to remain in the UK? And suddenly we're now worried about letting in dodgy people?
I suppose it does depend on how much information the Home Office had to work with at the time. One would presume that any disparity between what she claimed to have then ,and her subsequent lifestyle whilst here, has formed part of the evidence.
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:45 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
And if law enforcement has evidence of wrong doing... why not just arrest them and take any illegally gotten good away from them after the fact.
We do that already. In this case, though, the illegality may be elsewhere. It would not surprise me, if this case is successful, that the UK government will return the money to Azerbaijan.

Quote:
But the story we're being told is that the only way to stop these people is for the government to take their money and convict them later if at all.
Who said it was the "only" way?
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:46 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Honestly if you don't see the almost inevitability of misuse in a "We're gonna take your money and put the onus back on you to prove you earned it" precedent, I don't know what to tell you.
You seem to be arguing from a position of incredulity.
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:53 AM   #21
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Wrong thread.
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Old 10th October 2018, 07:24 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Don't they already have evidence of wrongdoing?
You mean, like bank records showing embezzlement, and evidence that he had means and opportunity to commit that crime, and it's enough to convince a judge to issue a warrant?

No, they don't have anything like that.

I'm pretty sure that the only correct answer, when the cops come around asking questions simply because they don't like the size of your bank account, is "I have a diversified portfolio of investments in BOTN and NOYB. Come back when you have a court order in connection with a specific crime that actually happened."
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Old 10th October 2018, 07:29 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
You mean, like bank records showing embezzlement, and evidence that he had means and opportunity to commit that crime, and it's enough to convince a judge to issue a warrant?

No, they don't have anything like that.
The husband getting banged up for fraud and embezzlement for 15 years back home in 2016 presumably revealed a lot of evidence.

Quote:
I'm pretty sure that the only correct answer, when the cops come around asking questions simply because they don't like the size of your bank account, is "I have a diversified portfolio of investments in BOTN and NOYB. Come back when you have a court order in connection with a specific crime that actually happened."
You should probably read this, which sets out what UWO actually are, and the tests that need to be passed for one to be issued:

Home Office: Circular 003/2018: unexplained wealth orders

Note especially those authorities the powers are limited to, i.e.:

• the National Crime Agency,
• Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs,
• the Financial Conduct Authority,
• the Serious Fraud Office, or
• the Crown Prosecution Service

"It is therefore not available to the wider law enforcement and prosecution community, except by referral to [one of the above]."

So not "the cops" in the sense you seemed to use it.

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Old 10th October 2018, 07:36 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Not at all. If Elon lived here he'd go "Here, it all comes from this.", J K Rowling would show you her book sales, Peter Jones would show you his accounts, Paul McCartney would show you his writing credits. This list can be almost as long as you'd like it to be.
Seems to me it would be trivially easy to have a very wide search warrant granted following the conviction of the husband for embezzlement. If the money is illegitimate, then further crimes were almost certainly committed in the UK (receiving stolen goods, laundering, false statements, tax evasion, etc) They likely lied about the money when they immigrated. The wife's finances, as a member of the household and beneficiary of criminal actions, could easily be included in such a search.

Civil forfeiture may be easier, but it doesn't seem like the only practical solution. There are plenty of criminal threads to follow up on with traditional police tools, they just aren't as convenient.

If the UK is worried about dodgy money flowing in from white-collar criminals coming from abroad, they should tighten up immigration standards and require more thorough financial disclosures. Seems like these two were hiding in plain sight and the tiniest bit of due diligence at the border would have exposed them.
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Old 10th October 2018, 07:38 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
If the UK is worried about dodgy money flowing in from white-collar criminals coming from abroad, they should tighten up immigration standards and require more thorough financial disclosures.
They're doing that, as well. To be fair, they're tightening up standards for just about anyone (outside the EEA) trying to get into the country.
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Old 10th October 2018, 07:39 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by SuburbanTurkey View Post
Civil forfeiture may be easier, but it doesn't seem like the only practical solution.
If there were a whole class of people so well practiced and supported at financial crime that they were, with ease and at every turn, able to stay precisely and confidently just beyond the 'reasonable doubt' threshold, then what would be the best way to deal with them?
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Old 10th October 2018, 07:43 AM   #27
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Civil forfeiture should only happen after conviction for a crime.

With something like theft or embezzlement, it’s fairly easy: Liquidate assets to reimburse the victim. Things like drug smuggling it’s s bit more complicated, but should be the government making a case based on financial/employment records.

If someone is found having or carrying a large amount of money, it might be probable cause for an investigation which may involve temporary seizure. But absent a conviction, it should be returned after a reasonable amount of time. And the butden of return should be on the government and not dependent on the suspect going through procedures to claim it.
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Old 10th October 2018, 07:59 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
If there were a whole class of people so well practiced and supported at financial crime that they were, with ease and at every turn, able to stay precisely and confidently just beyond the 'reasonable doubt' threshold, then what would be the best way to deal with them?
I won't trivialize the massive problem of dirty money, especially dirty money flowing in from the more corrupt parts of the world. It is a big problem that I wish the US and other like minded nations would take more seriously.

Proactively, rich foreigners have no right to enter the UK. The government should feel perfectly free to set up whatever standards they deem necessary to prevent dirty money from entering the country. Any potential immigrant who can't sufficiently demonstrate a legitimate source of income need not be admitted to the country. I don't see why the bar couldn't be set fairly high. Since there is no right to immigrate into the country, the burden of proof could be set on the applicant to prove their money is legitimate.

The wealthy corrupt really want to get their fortunes out of whatever two-bit nation they ripped off and into a legitimate bank and currency. It's why you see Chinese buying up foreign real estate or Russian money ending up in American or European banks. A concerted effort by the West to prevent these corrupt funds from leaving their home countries could be very effective. Bill Browder has been a thorn in the side of Russian plutocrats by advocating successfully for such policies. It's largely a matter of political will to hold these people and their intermediaries responsible.

I don't think these white collar crimes are as well hidden as you suggest. It's just a matter of prioritizing and funding police agencies that do the tedious work of following the money. Chasing down shell company iterations takes time, but the paperwork is all there. An example that comes to mind is the big NYT piece showing all the fraudulent transactions that occurred within the Trump family over the last few decades. They didn't even have subpoena or search warrant power, just had to spend the time to chase it all down. The "war on terror" has drawn a lot federal investigative power away from such investigations. It's well past time to start funding aggressive oversight into the dealings of the wealthy.
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Old 10th October 2018, 08:15 AM   #29
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It shouldn't happen until after a criminal conviction. The furthest I'd be willing to go without a criminal conviction is a temporary freeze on assets (government doesn't really profit from that, so there's not quite the same incentive to abuse it) and even that should have strict rules limiting it.
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Old 10th October 2018, 08:18 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I don't understand. If the family is suspected of acquiring their wealth illegally, shouldn't we investigate that?
Suspected?

"Jahangir Hajiyev is the former chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan.

He was jailed in 2016 for 15 years after being convicted of being part of a major fraud and embezzlement that saw tens of millions of pounds disappear from the bank. Judges also ordered him to repay $39m."
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Old 10th October 2018, 08:19 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
The money is still taken without a conviction even in the British system.
Yes, that's unacceptable.
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Old 10th October 2018, 08:26 AM   #32
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Why wouldn't all this be handled under tax law already? As far as I know you're required to pay taxes, which includes revealing the nature, source, and extent of your wealth. And lying or omission on that is criminal. So whether you admit in your tax filing that you made a million selling nuclear weapons, conceal the million entirely, or admit the million but say it was from selling fancy dogs, you're going to get caught. Even if you paid the taxes on it, the government won't ignore illegal shenanigans. Remember All Capone.
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Old 10th October 2018, 08:31 AM   #33
3point14
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Why wouldn't all this be handled under tax law already? As far as I know you're required to pay taxes, which includes revealing the nature, source, and extent of your wealth. And lying or omission on that is criminal. So whether you admit in your tax filing that you made a million selling nuclear weapons, conceal the million entirely, or admit the million but say it was from selling fancy dogs, you're going to get caught. Even if you paid the taxes on it, the government won't ignore illegal shenanigans. Remember All Capone.
It probably should be, but, from here: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...ng-habit-named

There's this:

"The NCA also claims suspect cash funded the 10.5m purchase of Mill Ride golf and country club in Ascot via a company based in Guernsey. The Knightsbridge home was allegedly bought via a firm in the British Virgin Islands, which the NCA alleges is controlled by Hajiyeva."
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Old 10th October 2018, 08:33 AM   #34
JoeMorgue
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Why wouldn't all this be handled under tax law already?
I'd wager every advanced nation on the planet has codified laws that allow for seizing of ill gotten gains after a conviction be it for unpaid taxes or just the fact that it was gotten illegally.

But the whole concept of "civil forfeiture" is doing it before a conviction.

If the government wants a private citizens money, they should have to go the process of convicting them in court with all standards and processes that applies.

A temporary freeze of assets (for a limited time frame, with no onus on the individual) under reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to stop that criminal activity is also understandable

This "We think you did something wrong, give us your money and we'll give it back after you prove to our satisfaction" outside of any court proceeding is not okay.
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Old 10th October 2018, 08:36 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I'd wager every advanced nation on the planet has codified laws that allow for seizing of ill gotten gains after a conviction be it for unpaid taxes or just the fact that it was gotten illegally.

But the whole concept of "civil forfeiture" is doing it before a conviction.

If the government wants a private citizens money, they should have to go the process of convicting them in court with all standards and processes that applies.

A temporary freeze of assets (for a limited time frame, with no onus on the individual) under reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to stop that criminal activity is also understandable

This "We think you did something wrong, give us your money and we'll give it back after you prove to our satisfaction" outside of any court proceeding is not okay.


do you have an answer for my question in post 26?
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Old 10th October 2018, 08:40 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
do you have an answer for my question in post 26?
No but the answer is not "Make up a new outside the system law that we super promise we're gonna use on the really bad guys we can't get any other way and never on anyone else totes honest for realz."

Sometimes the bad guys wins because of how the system is set up and the system is set up for a reason. Every time, every time, someone tries to break the system just to "get this one bad guy" it never works.
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Old 10th October 2018, 08:42 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
No but the answer is not "Make up a new outside the system law that we super promise we're gonna use on the really bad guys we can't get any other way and never on anyone else totes honest for realz."

Sometimes the bad guys wins because of how the system is set up and the system is set up for a reason. Every time, every time, someone tries to break the system just to "get this one bad guy" it never works.

It isn't to 'get this one bad guy'. What makes you think that?


"The Hajiyeva case is being closely watched and if the NCA succeeds it is expected to launch up to nine new UWO investigations."

From:
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...ng-habit-named
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Old 10th October 2018, 08:44 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
No but the answer is not "Make up a new outside the system law that we super promise we're gonna use on the really bad guys we can't get any other way and never on anyone else totes honest for realz."

Sometimes the bad guys wins because of how the system is set up and the system is set up for a reason. Every time, every time, someone tries to break the system just to "get this one bad guy" it never works.
This seems like a whole lot of paranoia, given the actuality of what a UWO requires even before it gets to court.
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Old 10th October 2018, 08:49 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Information Analyst View Post
This seems like a whole lot of paranoia, given the actuality of what a UWO requires even before it gets to court.
Again... 2.5 billion dollars in assets (and that's the low ball estimate since nobody is actually required document any of this. Some higher estimates put it at over 5 billion. For reference burglers took a mere 3.5 billion from Americans last year) were taken and kept from American citizens last year with no due process and no means of getting it back.

And this is with no process. This is a literally a cop stopping your car, "smelling" pot, searching your car, finding money, and keeping it. Not only are you not convicted or charged there is never any real pretense of you ever being convicted. The Washington Post looked at 400 cases of civil forfeiture across 17 states. Not one person got their money/goods back. Not one person was arrested, charged, or convicted.

And what are describing is the exact same first step we were told to take back when it started over here.

If you want to take that first step and trust it to go no further, go ahead. But the law is the one place where the slippery slope fallacy does not apply.
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Old 10th October 2018, 09:51 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Information Analyst View Post
This seems like a whole lot of paranoia, given the actuality of what a UWO requires even before it gets to court.
Do you (or anyone else reading this) have a link to a layman-friendly description of the process? I know essentially nothing of modern British law so I might be making unfair assumptions based on our horribly abusive US asset forfeiture laws.
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