The Czech state has been criticized by the Supreme Audit Office (SAO) for its poor handling of seized, forfeited, and encumbered assets in criminal and tax proceedings. The audit report found that the state did not adequately value the property, leading to a reduction in revenue that goes into the Ministry of Justice’s account, used to pay victims’ property claims. The SAO investigated the disposal of electrical appliances and motor vehicles between 2015 and 2020, finding that the Office for State Representation in Property Matters did not offer for sale 57% of the 180 seized passenger cars, with an average storage period of 522 days. In addition, 93% of the control sample of 110 seized electrical equipment was not offered for sale. The SAO raised concerns about the registration and valuation of the seized property, estimating its value at least CZK 3.5 billion, with another CZK 2.92 billion for the forfeited and seized property. However, there is no legal obligation to value property, so the state has limited oversight.
The report also raised concerns about the lack of maintenance, with two-thirds of the cars inspected not maintained by the ministry, leading to a decline in their value. The General Directorate of Customs only supported 11 out of 68 vehicles, and only six were ready for auction. The Office of the Ministry of Customs said it was trying to minimize the costs of managing its assets and that its staff carried out maintenance to save money, resulting in savings in state budget expenditure. Partial deficiencies pointed out by the SAO have been eliminated.
According to the published reports of the National Headquarters against Organized Crime for 2017, 2018, and 2020, all the departments of the Police of the Czech Republic seized property worth CZK 6.24 billion on average per year between 2016 and 2020. The Centre for Seized Assets of the Ministry of the Interior did not record the value of the property when it was taken into administration. The Office of Asset Management reported that over 90% of the secured assets had zero value. The administration of seized, forfeited, or confiscated assets cost the state CZK 320 million.
The audited entities were the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the General Financial Directorate, the General Directorate of Customs, the Office for State Representation in Property Matters, the Regional Court in Ostrava, and the Regional Police Directorate of the South Moravian Region. The state’s failure to manage seized assets effectively has led to a reduction in revenue and potential losses in value for seized property, which could be used to pay victims’ property claims. The audit report highlights the need for improved management and oversight of seized, forfeited, or confiscated assets in criminal and tax proceedings.