The annual report of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) shows that it returned €5.5 million to the State last year.
Of the total, €4.4 million was linked to Revenue settlements, €1.1 million was from proceeds of crime, and just over €360,000 from social-welfare recoveries.
The CAB, which was established under the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996 to fight organised crime and disrupt the activities of criminal gangs, marked its 25th anniversary last year.
According to its annual report, it brought 23 new applications before the High Court – a lower number than in 2020.
More resources for CAS
As a result, the value of assets frozen fell from €5.8 million in 2020 to €3 million last year. More than €1 million of this was linked to vehicles.
The bureau blamed the decrease mainly on increased demands on the service, and resourcing issues in the Criminal Assets Section (CAS) of the Chief State Solicitor's Office (CSSO), which provides a dedicated legal service to the CAB.
It pointed to a higher volume of legal-service demands flowing into CAS – through proceeds-of-crime cases, tax appeals, property sales, and other CAB work.
The head of the CAB, Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Gubbins (pictured), said that a request for a “significant increase” in staffing levels at CAS had been approved, and that funds had been allocated to support additional recruitment in the CSSO.
He also said that the majority of CAB actions last year were again linked to the proceeds of drug trafficking.
The value of assets under the new proceeds-of-crime cases started by CAB last year ranged from €9,370 to €973,077.
As well as the money returned to the Exchequer, CAB also returned more than €5.4 million to six injured parties who were victims of crypto-currency theft involving SIM-swapping fraud.
Gubbins described the operation – taken in conjunction with US Homeland Security – as “another positive example of international co-operation between the bureau and its international law-enforcement partners”.
The CAB conducted 48 search operations last year, consisting of 189 searches in 22 counties.
McEntee plans legislation
Publishing the report, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that she was aiming to finalise a general scheme for new legislation to support CAB’s work by the end of this year.
Among its main aims will be to reduce the timeframe for the making of a ‘disposal order’.
“At the moment, once the High Court has determined that an asset is a proceed of crime, it can take a further seven years before it may be ultimately confiscated,” the minister said.
“My intention is to substantially reduce the statutory timeframe before a ‘disposal order' can be made from seven years,” she added.