Terminologies courtesy The Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative(StAR)


administrative confiscation:

A nonjudicial mechanism for confiscating proceeds of crime or assets used or involved in the commission of an offense.

asset confiscation:

The permanent deprivation of property by order of a court or other competent authority. The term is used interchangeably with forfeiture. Confiscation takes place through a judicial or administrative procedure that transfers the ownership of specified funds or assets to the state. The persons or entities that held an interest in the specified funds or other assets at the time of the confiscation or forfeiture lose all rights, in principle, to the confiscated or forfeited funds or other assets.


Assets of every kind, whether corporeal or incorporeal, movable or immovable, tangible or intangible, and legal documents or instruments evidencing title to or interest in such assets. The term is used interchangeably with property.


Beneficial owner:

The natural person who ultimately owns or controls the corporate vehicle or benefits from its assets, the person on whose behalf a transaction is being conducted, or both. Beneficial owners also include those persons who exercise ultimate effective control over a legal person or arrangement.

Bona fide purchaser:

See innocent owner.


central authorities.:

The entity designated by a jurisdiction to receive requests for mutual legal assistance from other jurisdictions. The central authority may deal with these requests itself or forward them to the appropriate authority.

Chain of corporate vehicles:

This term generally refers to groups of two or more corporate vehicles connected through legal ownership.


The party asserting an interest in the asset. This may include a third party, innocent owner, defendant, target, or offender.

Commingled assets:

Proceeds or instrumentalities of an offense that have been mixed with other assets that may not be proceeds of crime.


A pecuniary remedy that is awarded to a victim identified in proceedings and who is proved to have suffered damages.


The permanent deprivation of assets by order of a court or other competent authority. The term is used interchangeably with forfeiture. The persons or entities that hold an interest in the specified funds or other assets at the time of the confiscation lose all rights, in principle, to the confiscated funds or other assets.

conviction-based confiscation:

Describes all forms of confiscation that require the defendant to be convicted of an offense before confiscation proceedings can be initiated and confiscation can take place.

Corporate vehicles:

A broad concept that refers to all forms of legal entities and legal arrangements through which a wide variety of commercial activities are conducted and assets are held (for example, corporations, trusts, partnerships, foundations, and others).

criminal confiscation:

See conviction-based confiscation.



Any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute.

Deferred Prosecution Agreement:

A form of settlement used in the United States whereby the prosecution can propose to a defendant a written agreement in which the defendant admits responsibility and undertakes certain obligations in exchange for the prosecutor filing charges but not immediately taking further action on them (in legal parlance, deferring action) and dismissing them at a later time once the defendant has satisfactorily fulfilled his side of the agreement.

Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs):

This term encompasses casinos (including Internet-based casinos), real estate agents, dealers in precious metals, dealers in precious stones, lawyers, notaries, other independent legal professionals and accountants, and trust and company service providers.


The act of giving up profits obtained by illegal or unethical acts on demand or by legal compulsion, to prevent unjust enrichment. This is a type of civil remedy available in common law jurisdictions.

double jeopardy:

The principle that a person, natural or legal, should not be subject to a second prosecution for the same offense after legitimate acquittal or conviction, nor should a person be subject to multiple punishments for the same offense. See also the ne bis in idem principle.


Ex parte proceedings:

Legal proceedings brought by one person in the absence of, and without representation or notification of, other parties.


Financial intelligence unit (FIU):

A central, national agency responsible for receiving, (and as permitted, requesting), analyzing and disseminating to the competent authorities, disclosures of financial information: (i) concerning suspected proceeds of crime and potential financing of terrorism, or (ii) required by national legislation or regulation, in order to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.


Criminal or civil monetary sanctions, which are often punitive in nature.

focal point:

A single, readily accessible office or official with designated authority to communicate with other jurisdictions with respect to mutual legal assistance requests and other related matters and whose contact details are provided through the Internet and/or other media.


See confiscation.


A foundation is a legal entity that consists of a property that has been transferred into it to serve a particular purpose and has no owners or shareholders. Foundations are ordinarily managed by a board of directors, according to the terms of a foundation document or constitution. Some jurisdictions restrict foundations to public purposes (public foundations); other jurisdictions allow foundations to be established to fulfill private purposes (private foundations).

freeze of assets:

A temporary prohibition on the transfer, conversion, disposition, or movement of property or temporary assumption of custody or control of property on the basis of an order issued by a court or other competent authority. The term is used interchangeably with seizure and restraining.


See provisional measures.



Includes accountants, lawyers, financial consultants, or other professionals holding accounts at a financial institution and acting on behalf of their clients, either knowingly or unwittingly, to move or conceal the proceeds of illegal activity. A criminal may seek to use the gatekeeper to access the financial system, while remaining anonymous themselves.

Grand corruption:

A broad range of offenses, including bribery, embezzlement, trading in influence, misappropriation of state funds, illicit enrichment, and abuse of office committed by high-level public officials or senior officers of state-owned entities.



An out-of-court statement that is offered in court as evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Whereas civil law jurisdictions do not usually exclude hearsay from proceedings, hearsay is inadmissible in common law (with a number of exceptions). If hearsay is admitted, the court must also consider the appropriate weight to give the evidence.

Hybrid company:

Limited by a guarantee (similar to a foundation) but issues shares like a company.


In personam:

Latin for “directed toward a particular person.” In the context of confiscation or a lawsuit, it is a legal action against a specific person.

In rem:

Latin for “against a thing.” In the context of confiscation, it is a legal action against a specific thing or asset. See property-based confiscation.

informal assistance:

Any activity or assistance that is provided without the need for a formal mutual legal assistance (MLA) request. There may be legislation that permits this type of practitioner-to-practitioner assistance, including MLA legislation.

Innocent owner:

A third party with an interest in an asset subject to confiscation who did not know of the conduct giving rise to confiscation or, on learning of the conduct giving rise to confiscation, did all that reasonably could be expected under the circumstances to terminate use of the asset. The term is used interchangeably with bona fide purchaser for value.

Instrument or instrumentality.:

The assets used to facilitate crime, such as a car or boat used to transport narcotics or cash.

International Business Corporation (IBC):

This corporate vehicle, sometimes called an exempt company, is the primary corporate form employed by nonresidents in offshore financial centers. An IBC has the features of a corporation, but it is not permitted to conduct business within the incorporating jurisdiction and is generally exempt from local income taxes. In most jurisdictions, an IBC is not permitted to engage in banking, insurance, and other financial services.


Know your customer:

The due diligence and bank regulation that financial institutions and other regulated entities must perform to identify their clients and ascertain relevant information pertinent to doing financial business with them.


Legal arrangements:

Express trusts or other similar legal arrangements.

legal persons:

Refers to bodies corporate, foundations, partnerships, or associations or any similar bodies that can establish a permanent customer relationship with a financial institution or otherwise own property.

letters rogatory:

A formal request from a court to a foreign court for some type of judicial assistance. It permits formal communication between the judiciary, a prosecutor, or law enforcement official of one jurisdiction and his or her counterpart in another jurisdiction. A particular form of mutual legal assistance.

Limited liability company (LLC):

This is a business entity that provides limited liability to its owners (known as members). An LLC may be managed either by members or by one or more separate managers engaged by the LLC under the terms contained within its articles of organization.


mutual legal assistance (MLA):

The process by which jurisdictions seek and provide assistance in gathering information, intelligence, and evidence for investigations, in implementing provisional measures, and in enforcing foreign orders and judgments.

mutual legal assistance request:

Distinguished from informal assistance, a mutual legal assistance request is typically a request in writing that must adhere to specified procedures, protocols, and conditions set out in multilateral or bilateral agreements or domestic legislation. These requests are generally used to gather evidence (including through coercive investigative techniques), obtain provisional measures, and seek enforcement of domestic orders in a foreign jurisdiction.

mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT):

A bilateral treaty that creates clear and binding obligations between two jurisdictions for cooperation on mutual legal assistance and sets out efficient and comprehensive procedures to be applied. These treaties are typically not limited in scope to a range of offenses but apply to any criminal activity that falls within their scope of application. MLATs typically create a closer relationship between the signatory states than multilateral conventions and are customized to fit that relationship.


ne bis in idem:

Latin for “not twice for the same.” A principle applied in civil law systems mainly meaning that a person (natural or legal) may not be tried for a criminal offense for which that person has previously been finally convicted or acquitted. See double jeopardy.

Non-conviction based confiscation (NCB confiscation):

Confiscation for which a criminal conviction is not required.

Non-Prosecution Agreement (NPA):

A form of settlement used in the United States whereby the prosecution can propose to a defendant a written agreement to admit responsibility and undertake certain obligations in exchange for the prosecutor not filing charges.


OECD Anti-Bribery Convention:

OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Entered into force on 15 February 1999.


partie civile:

French for civil party. In some civil law systems, a party injured as a direct result of a criminal offense can apply to join the criminal proceedings as a civil party, with a view to obtaining access to the case file and related evidence as well as to pursuing damages in the context of the criminal case.


A partnership is an association or two or more individuals or entities formed for the purpose of carrying out business activity. In contrast to corporations, traditional partnerships are entities in which at least one (in the case of limited partnerships) or all (in the case of general partnerships) of the partners have unlimited liability for the obligations of the partnership. In a limited partnership, the limited partners enjoy limited liability, provided that they do not participate actively in management decisions or bind the partnership.

Politically exposed persons (PEPs):

Individuals who are, or have been, entrusted with prominent public functions, their family members, and close associates.


Refers to law enforcement investigators, investigating magistrates, private lawyers, forensic accountants, financial analysts, and prosecutors. One or all of these roles may be involved in a component of the investigation, depending on the laws of the jurisdiction.

Proceeds of crime:

Any asset derived from or obtained, directly or indirectly, through the commission of an offense. In most jurisdictions, commingled assets are included.


See assets.

Property-based confiscation:

A confiscation action that targets a specific thing or asset found to be the proceeds or instrumentalities of crime. Also known as in rem confiscation or a tainted property system.

Provisional measures:

Temporarily prohibiting the transfer, conversion, disposition, or movement of assets or temporarily assuming custody or control of assets on the basis of an order issued by a court or other competent authority. The term is used interchangeably with freezing, restraint, seizure, and blocking.



Gratuitous or voluntary payments undertaken by a wrongdoer in an effort to repair the damage done or an expression of remorse.

Requested jurisdiction:

A jurisdiction that is asked to provide assistance to another jurisdiction for the purpose of assisting a foreign investigation or prosecution or enforcing a judgment.

Requesting jurisdiction:

A jurisdiction that asks for the assistance of another jurisdiction for the purpose of assisting with a domestic investigation or prosecution or enforcing a judgment.


The principle that a person who has suffered loss as a result of a wrong committed against him or her must be restored as nearly as possible to the circumstance in which he or she was before the damage took place.


See provisional measures.



See provisional measures.

Seller for value:

See innocent owner.

State Party:

A country that has ratified or acceded to a particular treaty and is therefore legally bound by the provisions in the instrument.

Substitute assets:

Assets that cannot be linked to an offense giving rise to confiscation, but that may be confiscated in substitution for such assets if the assets that are directly subject to confiscation cannot be located or are otherwise unavailable.

Suspicious activity report:

See suspicious transaction report.

Suspicious transaction report (STR):

A report filed by a financial institution about a suspicious or potentially suspicious transaction or activity. The report is filed with the jurisdiction’s FIU.


Tainted property:

See property-based confiscation.

Target or targets:

The suspect or suspects of an investigation.


Also referred to as an “express trust,” this corporate vehicle provides for the separation of legal ownership from beneficial ownership. It is an arrangement whereby property (including real, tangible, and intangible) is managed by one person for the benefit of others. A trust is created by one or more settlors who entrust property to the trustee or trustees. The trustees hold legal title to the trust property but are obliged to hold the property for the benefit of the beneficiaries (usually specified by the settlers who hold what is termed equitable title). The trustees owe a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries, who are the beneficial owners of the trust property.

Trust and Company Service Providers (TCSPs):

Any person or business that provides any of the following services to third parties: acting as a formation agent of legal persons; acting as (or arranging for another person to act as) a director or secretary of a company, a partner of a partnership, or a similar position in relation to other legal persons; providing a registered office, business address or accommodation, or correspondence or administrative address for a company, a partnership, or any other legal person or arrangements; acting as (or arranging for another person to act as) a trustee of an express trust; or acting as (or arranging for another person to act as) a nominee shareholder for another person.



United Nations Convention against Corruption. Entered into force on 14 December 2005.


Value-based confiscation:

A confiscation action to recover the value of benefits that have been derived from criminal conduct and to impose a monetary penalty of an equivalent value.