Attorney General's Authority
With respect to property ordered forfeited under the criminal
forfeiture statutes, the Attorney General has statutory authority
grant petitions for remission or mitigation of forfeiture, restore
forfeited property to victims of a violation of [the applicable chapter
or subchapter], or take any other action to protect the rights of
innocent persons which is in the interest of justice and which is not
inconsistent with the provisions of [the applicable chapter or
18 U.S.C. § 1963(g)(1) (RICO); 21 U.S.C. § 853(i)(1)
(controlled substances); and by incorporation of section 853(i)(1) by
reference, 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(h)(3) and 794(d)(3) (espionage);
982(b)(1) (money laundering and other offenses); 1467(b) (obscene material);
2253(b) (sexual exploitation of minors); 28 U.S.C. § 2461(c)
In civil forfeitures also, the Attorney General is authorized
to decide petitions for remission or mitigation. See,
e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 981(d) and 21 U.S.C. § 881(d).
In addition, section 981 authorizes the Attorney General, in
§ 981 civil forfeitures, to transfer the forfeited property
"as restoration to any victim of the offense giving rise to the
forfeiture, including, in the case of a money laundering offense,
any offense constituting the underlying specified unlawful
activity." See 18 U.S.C. § 981(e)(6).
The authority of the Attorney General to grant petitions for
remission or mitigation in criminal and civil judicial
forfeitures is delegated to the chief of the Asset Forfeiture
Money Laundering Section (AFMLS) by Title 28, Code of Federal
Regulations, part 9 (28 C.F.R. Part 9), at 28 C.F.R. § 9.1(b)(2).
In addition, the Attorney General has delegated to the chief of AFMLS, the
authority pursuant to any civil or criminal forfeiture statute enforced or
administered by the Department of Justice, e.g., 18 U.S.C.
§§ 981(e)(6), 1963(g)(1), and 982(b)(1) [incorporating
§ 853(i)(1)], "to restore forfeited property to victims or take
other actions to protect the rights of innocent persons in civil or criminal
forfeitures that are in the interest of justice and that are not
inconsistent with the provisions of the statute." See Attorney
General Order No. 2088-97 (June 14, 1997). Accordingly, in appropriate
cases, the chief of AFMLS has discretionary authority to authorize the
restoration of forfeited property to compensate victims by means of
Pursuant to this restoration authority, and applying the
guidelines for restoration decisions set forth in Forfeiture
Policy Directive 02-1 ("Guidelines and Procedures for Restoration
of Forfeited Property to Crime Victims via Restitution in lieu of
Remission"), the chief of AFMLS, in appropriate cases, may
authorize federally forfeited property or proceeds to be
transferred to the court for use in satisfaction of orders of
restitution entered at sentencing pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3363 et
seq. Such authority may be used by the chief of AFMLS in lieu of the
separate authority and procedures set forth at 28 C.F.R. Part 9 governing
petitions for remission or mitigation of forfeited property to victims.
However, insofar as is reasonably feasible, such authority will be used to
accomplish results that are not inconsistent with the standards set forth at
28 C.F.R. § 9.8 for determining remission of forfeited property to
non-owner victims. Additionally, insofar as may be applicable and not
inconsistent with the standards or procedures herein, the other provisions
of 28 C.F.R. Part 9 also shall apply.
In accordance with the Crime Victims' Rights Act (18 U.S.C.
§ 3771) and the Attorney General's authority, the Department
of Justice gives priority distribution of forfeited assets to
valid owners, lienholders, federal financial regulatory agencies,
and victims (in that order) through remission or restoration.
After losses to the above parties have been satisfied, any
remaining proceeds can be shared with state and local law
[new May 2010]
Remission or Mitigation of Forfeited Properties
The regulations governing the remission or mitigation of
civil and criminal forfeitures are at 28 C.F.R. Part 9.|
[new May 2010]
Restoration of Forfeited Properties
The "Guidelines and Procedures for Restoration of Forfeited
Property to Crime Victims via Restitution in lieu of Remission"
is in Forfeiture Policy Directive 02-1. See Chapter 13 of the
Asset Forfeiture Policy Manual.|
[updated October 2010]