PracticeAccounting FirmsUK to comply with Europe on asset freezing

UK to comply with Europe on asset freezing

MPs have voted for automatic British enforcement of orders from other EU states to freeze assets and preserve evidence needed for prosecutions abroad.

The Commons European Standing Committee backed Home Office minister Bob Ainsworth’s warning that, without approval, it was impossible to deal with cross-border crimes.

Initial protests concerned the definition of recognised judicial authorities in a member state whose orders were expected to be acted upon without question, within 24 hours.

As a result the matter was referred to the ESC for debate.

During the debate, Tory MP for Surrey Heath, Nick Hawkins, pointed to the ‘outrageous arrest, trial and prosecution of British planespotters in Greece’.

He asked what a British MP would be able to do if rung up by a constituent complaining his property was being seized ‘as a result of some order issued by some Greek court that they have never heard of’ with no right to challenge the action in a British court.

But Ainsworth said the only way of making progress was by way of mutual recognition of other member states’ systems – considering they were all signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights.

He said the only other alternative – an EU body with supra-national jurisdiction – was even more controversial and less likely.

He said: ‘The fundamental principle of mutual recognition is that we accept their system as they are obliged to accept ours.’

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