Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am going to briefly describe the status quo in relation to the Seized Property Management Act and, then, explain how it will work after the amendments are made.
Currently, my organization is responsible for administering seized property that's being seized pursuant to federal criminal charges only. There are specific charges for which the act is eligible. These are specific charges under the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. These are very specific charges for which we are able to serve, and this would be upon issuance of a management order by a judge.
The current legislation and the limits that it has prohibit serving cases such as the fraud case that was described pursuant to your question, Mr. Chair.
Also, these criminal cases I think are not static. Although they may start out as a federal criminal charge, as a prosecution proceeds and investigations proceed, what began as an expected federal criminal charge may conclude ultimately in some other outcome: acquittal, a lesser charge, a plea bargain, etc.
The inability to provide services beyond the current scope of the act has some challenges associated with it. Firstly, if we're unable to serve law enforcement as a service provider for the management of these assets, that law enforcement is required to manage the assets themselves. If they are laying charges beyond or haven't laid charges yet, these assets remain with law enforcement to do. That means they spend law enforcement resources managing assets.
Certainly, the uncertainty of outcome from the outset of an investigation through to the end can prohibit the confiscation or seizure of assets or suspect assets. Lastly, as a challenge, it could spell inefficiency, in that we have multiple levels of organizations—provincial, municipal, federal—all maintaining the capacity to deal with seized assets.
The changes to the act would allow my organization to serve any federal public official, provincial public official or municipal public official. We would be able to serve any offence: a specific violation of any provincial or federal law for assets that are connected to an offence, or when assets are believed to be intended for the commission of an offence. It's a much broader ability to support and we'll be authorized to manage and dispose of those assets and provide advice to client organizations.
It would require consent. Provinces, territories and municipalities would choose to use those services. This is not imposed. It's available to them if they so choose. Our minister or his representatives would be required to agree to provide the service, with a mutual agreement between the two of us. They would also need to agree to share the net proceeds, so if the outcome is that a seized asset is forfeited to the Crown and sold or liquidated and costs are recovered—that's how the program is paid for under the current act and how it will continue to be paid for after the proposed amendments—then the net proceeds of sale are shared with the jurisdictions that participated in the law enforcement action. That's also part of the existing regime.
Really, it represents a broadening of who we can offer services to and in what context, but the core function remains as it is today.