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Freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime

Freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime


Directive 2014/42/EU on the freezing and confiscation of instrumentalities and proceeds of crime in the EU



It aims to make it easier for national authorities to confiscate and recover the proceeds* and instrumentalities* from crime in the EU.


It sets out minimum rules for freezing and subsequently confiscating the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime.

The criminal offences concerned are those in various EU laws listed in Article 3 of the Directive.

In addition to the confiscation (following a criminal conviction) of proceeds and instrumentalities, or to the confiscation of their value, Article 4 allows the confiscation of the proceeds of crime and instrumentalities in cases of the flight or illness of the person concerned (when it is impossible for the suspect or accused person to attend the criminal proceedings for a longer period of time, meaning that the proceedings cannot continue under normal conditions and a criminal conviction is not possible).

Article 5 sets out clearer rules on extended powers of confiscation, thus making confiscation easier when a judge is satisfied that the property in question has been obtained through other criminal activities by the convicted person.

Article 6 of the Directive enables confiscation where property has been transferred from the suspect to a third party, or directly acquired by a third party, who should have realised that it is a result of crime.

Under Article 10, EU countries must adequately manage frozen assets (for example by setting up Asset Management Offices), so that they do not lose economic value before they are eventually confiscated.

Ireland is taking part in the directive while the United Kingdom (1) and Denmark are not.


The directive entered into force on 19 May 2014. EU countries have to incorporate it into national law by 4 October 2016.


* Proceeds: revenues from criminal activities.

* Instrumentalities: the tools used to commit crimes (e.g. a boat used to transport drugs).


Directive 2014/42/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 on the freezing and confiscation of instrumentalities and proceeds of crime in the European Union (OJ L 127, 29.4.2014, pp. 39-50)

Successive amendments to Directive 2014/42/EU have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

last update 07.01.2016

(1) The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union and becomes a third country (non-EU country) as of 1 February 2020.