The Doctrine of “Unexplained Wealth” and the Confiscation of Criminal Proceeds

These are the lecture notes from a presentation at the 2018 Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime discussing the doctrine of “unexplained wealth” and whether it is appropriate to use it as the basis for the confiscation of assets without other evidence that the person committed a criminal offense and that his property is traceable to it.

It asserts that standing alone, a person’s inability or unwillingness to explain the source of his wealth is not a sufficient ground to confiscate his property, but that in combination with circumstantial evidence that the property is in fact criminally derived, the person’s failure to explain the source of his wealth may be the tipping point that justifies the confiscation of the assets as the proceeds of crime.

The Doctrine of “Unexplained Wealth” and the Confiscation of Criminal Proceeds