US Justice Dept. policy allows authorities to seize suspicious bank accounts

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By Maggie Ybarra – The Washington Times – Tuesday, March 31, 2015

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has crafted a new policy that would allow government officials to seize bank accounts involved in financial structuring schemes prior to filing criminal charges against the individuals who own those accounts.

The new policy stems from the Justice Department’s ongoing review of its asset forfeiture program. The policy is aimed at preventing criminals from making a series of currency transactions under a certain monetary threshold in order to evade reporting the transaction to the authorities, according to a department statement.

Those types of transactions typically lead to “the most serious illegal banking transactions” and occur “in connection with other criminal activity,” the statement read.

The policy enables prosecutors to issue warrants for bank accounts that are potentially involved in a structuring scheme once the likelihood of federal criminal activity is shown. Upon a supervisor’s approval, the prosecutor must then file a criminal indictment or civil complaint against the owner of the seized funds within 150 days or return those funds.

“With this new policy, the Department of Justice is taking action to ensure that we are allocating our resources to address the most serious offenses,” Mr. Holder said. “Appropriate use of asset forfeiture law allows the Justice Department to safeguard the integrity, security and stability of our nation’s financial system while protecting the civil liberties of all Americans.”