New AG policy on asset forfeiture in structuring offenses

Washington CNN  — 

The Justice Department is changing the rules governing when it can seize cash from people who allegedly “structure” financial transactions to evade triggering rules that are aimed at thwarting money-laundering.

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Under a new policy by Attorney General Eric Holder, the fact someone has made a series of transactions just under the threshold that triggers banks to report suspicious financial transactions won’t be enough to seize money. Prosecutors will need further proof the money came from illegal sources, or has probable cause to believe other federal crimes are involved.

The changes seek to address criticism of federal asset forfeiture tactics, which have grown in use. Critics say seizing assets without first proving someone’s guilt of a crime violates the constitutional rights of suspects.