Justice Department Honors Asset Forfeiture Program Team with the Crimes Victims’ Financial Restoration Award
Today, the Department of Justice recognized the Criminal Division’s Program Management and Training Unit within the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section with the Crime Victims’ Financial Restoration Award. The award goes to teams that have instituted innovative approaches for securing financial restoration for crime victims. The organization was honored during the annual National Crime Victims’ Service Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“Civil asset forfeiture is a key tool that helps us defund organized crime, weaken criminals and cartels, and provide relief to victims,” said Attorney General Sessions. “The women and men of the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section play a central role in finding and restoring forfeited funds to crime victims. Just this week, they helped distribute an additional $500 million to victims of the Bernie Madoff financial scam, bringing the total to more than $1.2 billion. I applaud their efforts and appreciate all that they do for victims of crime.”
The Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Program has returned over $5.1 billion in civilly and criminally forfeited funds to crime victims since 2002 through the Department’s Victim Compensation Program.
Over the past three years, the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section has returned over $1.3 billion in forfeited funds to crime victims. Most recently, the Unit oversaw a $772 million distribution to 24,000 victims of Bernard Madoff, the first in a series of payments that will eventually return over $4 billion to victims of the Madoff fraud. In 2016 the Unit began oversight and administration of the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, established to compensate victims of international acts of terrorism. To date, the Fund has issued more than $1 billion to over 2,000 victims. These victims include the Iran hostages held from 1979 to 1981 and their spouses and children; victims of the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; and victims of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole.
“We cannot undo the damage that criminals like Bernie Madoff do to victims of crime, but distributions like yesterday’s provide significant relief to many of the victims of fraud,” said Director of the Office for Victims of Crime Darlene Hutchinson. “The Department of Justice is proud to honor this team for their remarkable contributions and for their commitment to justice for all individuals victimized by crime.”
During today’s ceremony, the Justice Department recognized a dozen individuals and organizations for their outstanding efforts on behalf of victims of crime. Awardees were selected from public nominations in ten categories.
Each year in April, the Department of Justice observes National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by taking time to honor victims of crime and those who advocate on their behalf. In addition, the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney’s Offices organize events to honor the victims and advocates, as well as bring awareness to services available to victims of crime. This year’s observance takes place April 8-14, with the theme Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims.
The Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, within the Office of Justice Programs, leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week each year. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in 1981 to bring greater sensitivity to the needs and rights of victims of crime.
The Office of Justice Programs provides innovative leadership to federal, state, local, and tribal justice systems, by disseminating state-of-the art knowledge and practices across America, and providing grants for the implementation of these crime fighting strategies. Because most of the responsibility for crime control and prevention falls to law enforcement officers in states, cities, and neighborhoods, the federal government can be effective in these areas only to the extent that it can enter into partnerships with these officers. More information about the Office of Justice Programs and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov. More information about Crime Victim’s Rights Week can be found at https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/.