The 'confiscated' luxury villa rented out on that exposes EU weakness over criminals' assets

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By Euronews
The 'confiscated' luxury villa rented out on that exposes EU weakness over criminals' assets

A luxury French villa rented by its owner eight years after being “confiscated” by the state illustrates Europe’s failure to manage efficiently billions of euros of criminal assets, a report has found.

Giampietro Paleari, was cleared at trial of association with the Mafia in 2003, but a Milan court handed down confiscation orders on his assets in 2006. Nevertheless he was able to use to let the 780,000-euro property in Beausoleil near Monaco until late 2014, according to an investigation by a team of EU journalists.

Even when French authorities did catch up with Paleari, it took them a year to evict him, say Data Ninja, the data journalism website behind the investigation.

Paleari’s case was uncovered amid a wider investigation into confiscated assets in the EU.

The report claims, on average, around 4 billion euros worth of assets are confiscated each year across the 28-member bloc. This takes the form of properties, land, vehicles, cash and other valuables which flow into state Treasuries or fund law enforcement.

But there are no definitive figures and the study has called for a database to be set up to help quantify and track the assets. The EU is trying to harmonise rules to make it easier to strip criminals of their wealth but the systems vary from country to country.

The journalists managed to uncover numbers from five of the biggest EU countries.

“Getting to know the data on the investments of crime groups and on confiscation is of paramount importance,” the report says. “In the absence of reliable numbers, it is impossible to assess the effectiveness of the policies aimed at tackling criminal assets and promoting their use for social purposes.”