FBI Seizes Hundreds of Safe Deposit Boxes without Producing Evidence of Criminal Wrongdoing
The comments below are an edited and abridged synopsis of an article by Arsenio Toledo
In March, the FBI raided the safe deposit boxes of over 800 people that they rented from U.S. Private Vaults in Beverly Hills, California. The FBI confiscated the contents of the safe deposit boxes, which amounted to around $86 million in cash and other valuables.
The FBI claims criminals were using the safe deposit boxes, but it has not provided any evidence. Prosecutors have only been able to identify 11 individuals with pending charges or past criminal convictions.
About 300 people who own safe deposit boxes in U.S. Private Vaults are contesting the illegal confiscation of their goods. Sixty-six people have filed claims saying the raid and seizure of assets were unconstitutional.
One class-action suit involving seven safe deposit box owners is seeking the destruction of all records generated by the raid. The plaintiffs see the case as a sign of law enforcement’s efforts to criminalize financial privacy.
Lawyers representing other box holders claim the FBI is attempting to ‘money grab’ to obtain large sums of cash for the Department of Justice. The FBI has little evidence to support its seizure of assets.
Apart from the 11 individuals with pending charges or histories of criminal convictions, the FBI has produced little evidence to justify the seizure of the assets.
The only other evidence the FBI has to justify its illegal seizure of assets is that U.S. Private Vaults was indicted in February for allegedly conspiring with customers to deal drugs, launder money and structure transactions to avoid government detection. This case remains dormant, and no individuals have been charged.