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Chasing criminal wealth: broken expectations for the criminalization of illicit enrichment in Lithuania

Skirmantas Bikelis (Law Institute, Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences, Vilnius, Lithuania)

Journal of Money Laundering Control

ISSN: 1368-5201

Article publication date: 21 October 2021

Issue publication date: 3 January 2022




This study aims at elaborating whether the criminalization of illicit enrichment has the potential to be an efficient and well-balanced measure against profiting from serious crime.


This study offers a normative analysis of the concept of the criminalization of illicit enrichment, particularly from the perspective of the presumption of innocence. This paper supplements theoretical considerations using Lithuania, where illicit enrichment was criminalized a decade ago, as a case study. It analyses data of all 28 known criminal cases on illicit enrichment that resulted in judgements in Lithuania in 2015–2019.


The author concludes that on neither a fundamental nor practical level can the assumption that the criminalization of illicit enrichment efficiently carries out the task for which it was created be supported. Moreover, efforts to implement this legal strategy might unbalance the system of illicit asset recovery measures and obstruct the implementation of other promising legal instruments.


As very few states with developed democracy and strong rule of law traditions have implemented criminalization of illicit enrichment, there are very few if any empirical data or analysis of practices on this issue that could contribute to the theoretical discussion. This paper aims at contributing to fulfillment of this gap by presenting relevant data and insights from the perspective of Lithuanian criminal justice system.



Bikelis, S. (2022), "Chasing criminal wealth: broken expectations for the criminalization of illicit enrichment in Lithuania", Journal of Money Laundering Control, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 95-108.



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