The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is now using an e-discovery tool to collect, process and analyse electronic evidence.
CAB’s annual report points out that the volume of data stored on digital devices has increased dramatically in the last ten years, and the consequent burden on investigators has become a major challenge.
Given that the size and volume of cases taken on by the bureau has increased substantially, it is now collecting more and more digital devices and large amounts of paper documentation during investigations.
In 2019, CAB tendered to procure a digital forensics/e-discovery tool that would crunch through digital information, combine it with paper documentation, and present it to investigators in a coherent, searchable, and easy-to-use format.
The full e-discovery solution was successfully installed in 2020, and CAB officers are now trained in its use, saving considerable labour hours in analysing data.
CAB’s remit is to investigate any criminal conduct that involves wealth the acquisition.
Meanwhile, the Criminal Assets Section (CAS) of the Chief State Solicitor's Office remains understaffed, the report says.
CAS provides legal advice and solicitor services to the bureau, and representation for all tax and social-welfare matters, both before the respective appeals bodies and in the Circuit and superior courts.
CAS also provides general legal advice and solicitor services at all stages of case progression, from investigation to disposal, including the provision of both contract drafting and conveyancing services.
During 2020, CAS was staffed with one principal solicitor and three State solicitors, as well as clerical back-up.
“While the work of the CAS is integral to the success of the bureau, it is noted that the authorised staffing complement is no longer sufficient to maintain increasing bureau outputs and increased service demands in proceeds-of-crime cases, and other areas of bureau work,” the report points out.
“The value of in‐house independent legal advice and support cannot be over emphasised in contributing to the success of the bureau,” detective chief superintendent Michael Gubbins says in his foreword to the report.
The CAB returned over €5 million in crime cash to the State last year, according to its annual report, which includes €4.2 million under proceeds-of-crime legislation, and €1.1 million returned to the State under part of the Criminal Justice Act 1994.
These monies seized cover the proceeds of organised crime, money laundering, tax evasion and social-welfare abuses.
The bureau also returned a further €5.5 million to the Nigerian government, part of over $700 million which was stolen by the corrupt ex-head of state, General Sani Abacha, who died in 1998.