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Prosecution for illicit enrichment: the Lithuanian perspective

Skirmantas Bikelis (Law Institute of Lithuania, Vilnius, Lithuania)

Journal of Money Laundering Control

ISSN: 1368-5201

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to present and analyse the issues with which Lithuania is faced through its introduction of a modern legal mechanism for a more efficient confiscation of the proceeds of crime – the criminalization of illicit enrichment.


The paper analyses issues raised in the Constitutional Court of Lithuania concerning the constitutionality of the country’s Criminal Code, as amended, by means of which illicit enrichment has been criminalized. Then, developments in and statistics for prosecutions and convictions for illicit enrichment are presented, and the legal issues that have been raised in the practice of the higher courts of Lithuania are analysed.


The concept of the criminalization of illicit enrichment proves to be less promising than that of civil forfeiture. First, it is contentious in the context of proportionality and ultima ratio. Second, it may infringe upon the prohibition of self-incrimination. Third, it appears that collecting sufficient evidence of illicit enrichment on the criminal standard of proof is an extremely difficult task for the prosecution.


Lithuania was the first European Union Member State to introduce general criminal liability for illicit enrichment. This analysis of the five years since the implementation of the enabling legislation should provide useful insights for the other countries considering introducing modern legal instruments to bring about a more effective control of illicit enrichment, as well as inspire additional, vital deliberation on the matter.



Bikelis, S. (2017), "Prosecution for illicit enrichment: the Lithuanian perspective", Journal of Money Laundering Control, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 203-214.



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