New Grants Awarded To Police Services Under Civil Remedies Act



    Government Using Proceeds Of Unlawful Activity To Assist Victims

    TORONTO, Aug. 1 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is awarding $174,410 in
grants under the Civil Remedies Act to three Ontario law enforcement agencies
to assist victims of unlawful activity and help prevent victimization,
Attorney General Michael Bryant announced today.
    "I am very pleased that the work of these law enforcement agencies will
benefit from legislation that forfeits profits from unlawful activity and uses
those profits to support programs that both assist victims and help prevent
victimization," said Bryant.

    
    Grants are being awarded to:

        -  Ontario Provincial Police Biker Enforcement Unit - $14,460 to
           enhance technology to assist investigations
        -  Peel Regional Police - $15,950 to help host a seminar to develop
           officers' skills as expert witnesses
        -  Ontario Provincial Police Asset Forfeiture Unit - $144,000 for a
           service contract for a forensic accountant to investigate asset
           forfeiture cases across Ontario.
    

    "A forensic accountant will significantly increase our capacity to
identify assets as proceeds of crime and investigate money laundering
activities and other asset forfeiture cases," said Detective Superintendent
Don Bell, Director of Organized Crime for the Ontario Provincial Police.
    The Civil Remedies Act authorizes the Attorney General to ask civil
courts to freeze, seize and order the forfeiture of the proceeds and
instruments of unlawful activity to the Crown. Forfeited property is
liquidated and deposited into a special purpose account. The act enables
direct victims of the unlawful activity to submit a claim for compensation
from the forfeited funds. Remaining funds may be disbursed for grants to
designated institutions to support programs and initiatives that assist
victims of unlawful activity, or prevent victimization.
    Since November 2003, the Attorney General has used the Civil Remedies Act
to:
    
        -  Shut down a notorious Hamilton crack house and transfer ownership
           to the city of Hamilton for redevelopment
        -  Freeze a second crack house in Hamilton
        -  Crush two street racing cars
        -  Gain forfeitures on 13 properties used for marijuana grow
           operations and freeze 52 more
        -  Freeze a Hell's Angels club house in Oshawa
        -  Obtain forfeitures of almost $1 million in illicit cash
        -  Disburse approximately $1 million in compensation to victims of
           unlawful activity
        -  Award more than $900,000 in grants to law enforcement agencies.

    "We have achieved significant results through civil forfeiture," said
Bryant. "We will continue to use the Civil Remedies Act to seek the forfeiture
of property acquired from unlawful activity and use it to compensate victims
and provide grants to prevent victimization."

    Disponible en français

                      www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca



    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE
    

    The Civil Remedies Act enables the Attorney General to ask the court for
a civil order forfeiting the proceeds or instruments of unlawful activity to
the Crown.
    A proceed is property or money acquired as a result of unlawful activity.
An instrument is property that is likely to be used to engage in unlawful
activity in the future. The law permits a civil court, at the request of the
Attorney General, to freeze, seize and order the forfeiture to the Crown of
property that is determined to be a proceed or an instrument of unlawful
activity. Property includes all types of assets, such as real estate, cars and
cash. Unlawful activity is not limited to activities covered by the Criminal
Code; it could include contraventions of other federal and provincial laws.
    Under the Civil Remedies Act, the court can grant an interim order to
freeze property pending the outcome of the forfeiture proceeding. If
government lawyers can prove that the property in question is a proceed or an
instrument of unlawful activity, the court can issue orders forfeiting the
property to the Crown. The act then enables victims of the unlawful activity
that leads to forfeiture to submit a claim for compensation against the
forfeited property.
    The process for civil forfeiture under the Civil Remedies Act begins when
a designated institution, such as a law enforcement agency or government
ministry, submits a case to the reviewing authority, an independent Crown
counsel in the Ministry of the Attorney General. That counsel decides whether
the statutory criteria in the Civil Remedies Act have been met. Once that is
confirmed, the case information is forwarded to the ministry's Civil Remedies
for Illicit Activities (CRIA) Office, which is responsible for enforcing the
act.
    Civil forfeiture focuses solely on the connection between property and
unlawful activity. It is not dependant on any criminal charges or convictions.
The standard of proof required for civil forfeiture is the same as it is in
all civil actions - a balance of probabilities.
    Ontario's CRIA Office is recognized nationally and internationally for
its precedent-setting work. Since November 2003, the province has obtained
forfeitures totalling $3.6 million. The province currently has $11.5 million
in property frozen under the act, pending completion of civil forfeiture
proceedings.

    Distribution of Forfeited Funds

    Forfeited property is normally liquidated and deposited into a special
purpose account. The legislation enables direct victims of the unlawful
activity, municipal corporations and prescribed public bodies to submit a
claim for compensation or cost recovery against the forfeited property.
    The legislation also allows for a grant program for the distribution of
funds remaining after victims are compensated and the Crown has recovered its
costs. The grant program supports programs and initiatives that assist victims
of unlawful activity, and helps prevent unlawful activities that result in
victimization.
    All applications are screened and assessed by an approval committee,
which includes members from the Civil Remedies for Illicit Activities Office,
the Ministry of the Attorney General, and the Ministry of Community Safety and
Correctional Services.

    Contact:
    Valerie Hopper
    Ministry of the Attorney General
    Communications Branch
    (416) 326-2202

    Disponible en français

    
                      www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca
    





For further information:

For further information: Greg Crone, Ministry of the Attorney General,
Minister's Office, (416) 326-1785; Valerie Hopper, Ministry of the Attorney
General, Communications Branch, (416) 326-2202

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