Against proposed dirty money law

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 April, 2013, 2:06am

I refer to the report ("DPP wants easier way to seize dirty cash", April 22).

In the article, Director of Public Prosecutions Kevin Zervos advocates the implementation of a civil forfeiture law that would allow the government to seize property before a criminal conviction or even criminal proceedings take place. He claims that this would make it easier to fight money laundering.

All this law will do is erode private property protection guaranteed by the Basic Law.

In jurisdictions that have civil forfeiture available, the potential for abuse is massive because it's a convenient way to fund law enforcement agencies.

Mr Zervos even admitted that this is one of the perks of a civil forfeiture law.

In the United States, for example, cases of innocent people's homes and life savings being seized by the government through civil forfeiture via overzealous prosecutors, who ultimately never file criminal proceedings, are a regular occurrence.

Once assets are seized, they are nearly impossible to recover.

Victims of the forfeiture are at a severe disadvantage since they will no longer be able to afford to hire a lawyer without the financial help of friends or relatives. This law prevents defendants from having a fair trial since they will have difficulty hiring a private lawyer and they will have to resort to inferior legal aid instead.

Do we really want innocent Hongkongers to potentially lose their life savings, flats, cars, and other assets simply because prosecutors are too lazy to build a strong criminal case?

Sorry Mr Zervos, but our core values are far more important than your desire to take legal shortcuts.

I am also appalled that Civic Party member and lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah actually thinks it's a good idea to implement this law.

Our existing laws are doing a fine job, and actually seizures have been increasing significantly under the current more stringent criminal forfeiture legislation.

Hats off to our police for their excellent work in taking advantage of existing laws to fight crime.

Mark Bradley, Central