The Government of Nunavut’s Civil Forfeiture Office is currently operating without a director.
The director role — the lone position within the division, which is headquartered in Iqaluit — was most recently held by David Lawson, a former RCMP officer who was brought on in June 2021.
However, the role has been vacant since February, when Lawson took a position as the Department of Justice’s assistant deputy minister of public safety, said Department of Justice spokesperson Peter Varga.
The forfeiture office handles its own investigations, and has seized approximately $13,100 in proceeds of criminal activities to date.
Its total expenditures for the 2021-2022 fiscal year were $158,974.
The department is currently “undertaking a search for a candidate to take the (director) position,” Varga said. In the meantime, the forfeiture office’s operational files are being handled by the department’s legal and constitutional law division.
The forfeiture office was created in tandem with the territory’s Unlawful Property Forfeiture Act, which came into effect on April 1, 2021.
The overarching goal of the office, as detailed by the act itself, is to “prevent people who engage in unlawful activities and others from keeping property that was acquired as a result of unlawful activities, prevent property from being used to engage in unlawful activities, and allow for the disposition of property derived from or used to engage in unlawful activities to socially useful purposes such as providing assistance for victims of crime and funding community-based wellness programs.”
The forfeiture office has received approximately 10 files per year since it was created, according to Varga. The office can receive tips from the public and RCMP, but every tip to date has been submitted by the former.