Key facts of the case:
Reference for a preliminary ruling — Judicial cooperation in criminal matters — Proceedings for the confiscation of illegally obtained assets in the absence of a criminal conviction — Directive 2014/42/EU — Scope — Framework Decision 2005/212/JHA.
Outcome of the case:
In the light of all the foregoing considerations, I suggest that the Court should answer the questions raised by the Sofyski Gradski Sad (Sofia City Court, Bulgaria) as follows:
‘Framework Decision 2005/212/JHA of 24 February 2005 on Confiscation of Crime-Related Proceeds, Instrumentalities and Property does not preclude confiscation proceedings such as those pending before the national court, where those proceedings are not ‘in relation to a criminal offence’ and their issue does not depend upon a criminal conviction.’
4) Article 48 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’) ( 4 ) provides that ‘everyone who has been charged shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law’.
5) In accordance with Article 51(1), the provisions of the Charter ‘are addressed to the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union … and to the Member States only when they are implementing [EU] law’.
72) Article 5 of Framework Decision 2005/212/JHA reiterates the obligation to respect the presumption of innocence. The presumption of innocence is recognised by Article 48(1) of the Charter.
74) For the reasons that I have set out above, confiscation proceedings such as those pending before the referring court cannot be considered to be ‘in relation to a criminal offence’ falling within the scope of the Framework Decision. Article 5 of the Framework Decision and Article 48(1) of the Charter are therefore inapplicable in the present case.