Forfeiture: The War on Your Wealth
The Nestmann Group, Ltd.
by Mark Nestmann: No
'Right to Silence' To Avoid Disclosing Information About Offshore
mans home may be his castle, but that does not keep the government
from taking it.
~ U.S. v. Hendler
More than two
centuries ago, when the United States first became a country, customs
duties on goods entering through the nations ports were a
primary source of revenue. Naturally, shipowners didnt want
to pay the duties. But if they didnt pay, customs officials
could confiscate their ship and all of its cargo.
Until the mid-1980s,
revenues from such civil forfeitures were low. Nearly
all civil forfeitures resulted from seizures of vehicles and boats
used to smuggle illegal drugs or other contraband across U.S. borders.
in 1984, when Congress enacted a tough anti-drug law with greatly
enhanced civil forfeiture provisions. The law permitted state, local,
and federal agencies to keep most or even all of the property they
confiscate, or sell it to generate revenue. Congress also decreed
that the government was entitled not only to the proceeds of a drug
trafficking offense, but also to all property derived from,
connected to or facilitating drug-related offenses.
Two years later,
in 1986, Congress enacted a strict anti-money-laundering law. The
act authorized civil forfeiture of all property representing the
proceeds of, involved in, or facilitating a specified unlawful
activity. The 1986 act, in effect, expands the scope of civil
forfeiture from customs and narcotics violations to violations of
virtually any criminal or regulatory infraction. Violations of nearly
400 federal laws and tens of thousands of state or local laws are
now considered specified unlawful activity.
The legal theory
behind civil forfeiture is that property not its owner
is guilty of a crime. And, if the government alleges that your property
somehow was involved in or facilitated a crime, you can lose it.
Because civil forfeiture is a civil procedure, none of the protections
that would apply to a criminal proceeding are in place. Your property
is presumed guilty. If you cant prove that its innocent,
you can lose it. If you dont have $20,000 or so to hire an
attorney who specializes in civil forfeiture cases, youre
unlikely to ever get it back.
of these legal incentives to seize property were predictable. In
2010, the Department of Justices Asset Forfeiture Fund
generated more than $2.5 billion in net forfeiture revenues.
And that figure doesnt include billions more in civil forfeitures
by state and local police authorities.
plight of James Lieto. He hired an armored car service to transport
money for his check-cashing company. Problem is, the FBI raided
the armored car service and seized $19 million including
$392,000 belonging to Mr. Lieto from vaults owned by its
parent company. Basically, his money was in the wrong place at the
wrong time. And hes still trying to get it back.
of civil forfeiture is one of the main reasons Ive long recommended
that our clients keep a generous portion of their wealth outside
the USA. Most countries wont honor U.S. civil forfeiture awards
unless theres an accompanying criminal proceeding. Yet, in
the vast majority of civil forfeitures, the property owner is never
accused of any crime. The civil forfeiture suffered by James Lieto
simply wouldnt be enforced in virtually any other country.
if youre a victim of civil forfeiture, or an attorney representing
a victim, help is available. The non-profit organization Forfeiture
Endangers American Rights (FEAR) has some outstanding resources
for forfeiture victims and their attorneys.
101 is a Continuing Legal Education course that enables defense
attorneys to represent civil forfeiture victims competently. Its
an important resource, because most attorneys arent familiar
with the arcane legal rules of civil forfeiture.
Brief Bank is another unique product. It contains more
than 200 motions and briefs that you or attorney
can draw from to reclaim seized property.
To order Forfeiture
101 or FEAR Brief Bank, see http://fear.org/ordform.html.
Even if youre
not a forfeiture victim, FEARs Web site is a great source
of hard-to-find information on civil forfeiture and an effective
antidote to the avalanche of pro-forfeiture propaganda on the Internet.
To learn more go to http:///www.fear.org.
with permission from The
Nestmann Group, Ltd.
Nestmann [send him mail]
is a journalist with more than 20 years of investigative experience
and is a charter member of The
Sovereign Societyís Council of Experts. He has authored over
a dozen books and many additional reports on wealth preservation,
privacy and offshore investing. Mark serves as president of his
own international consulting firm, The
Nestmann Group, Ltd. The Nestmann Group provides international
wealth preservation services for high-net worth individuals. Mark
is an Associate Member of the American Bar Association (member of
subcommittee on Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers, Committee
on Taxation) and member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
In 2005, he was awarded a Masters of Laws (LL.M) degree in international
tax law at the Vienna (Austria) University of Economics and Business
© 2011 Mark
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