The Criminal Asset Bureau (CAB) 2019 annual report shows that a total of €3.9m was returned to Exchequer in 2019 from proceeds of crime (€1.6m), social welfare overpayments (€0.3m) and Revenue legislation (€2m).
Nearly €65m in assets were frozen by CAB last year, a significant increase on the previous year.
This was due mainly to the granting of a freezing order over cryptocurrency to the value of €53m.
Welcoming the report, Justice minister Charlie Flanagan said: “The Criminal Asset Bureau continues to play an important role in deterring illegal activity by freezing and confiscating assets identified as coming from the proceeds of crime.”
Revenue bureau officers assessed 50 individuals and companies under the provisions of the Tax Acts, resulting in a total tax take of €11.7m.
Tax demands were served to the value of €5.8m.
Social Welfare investigations led to a number of individuals having payments either terminated or reduced, resulting in a total savings of €2.3m.
The report highlights continued growth in applications brought before the High Court under the Proceeds of Crime legislation, with 31 new cases.
The majority of these actions were taken against assets gained from the proceeds of drug trafficking, followed by actions relating to frauds and thefts.
Minister Flanagan continued: ‘’Criminal gangs are becoming more sophisticated in concealing their assets, which has necessitated changes in policing.
“CAB’s success in bringing a record number of cases before the Court in 2019 demonstrates their commitment and determination to their mission, and ability to counter the changing strategies of criminals.”
He thanked Pat Clavin for his leadership of the Bureau and wished him every success in his recent appointment as assistant commissioner in An Garda Síochána.
The report further details the Bureau’s continued development of Divisional asset profilers, to ensure that there is a focus on local criminal targets throughout the State for action by the Bureau.
CAB trained 105 profilers in 2019 in Garda Divisions throughout the State, building a 473-strong network by year end.
Under legislation introduced in 2016, the threshold for invoking the Proceeds of Crime Act was reduced from €13,000 to €5,000, significantly extending CAB's reach by now intervening early with mid-level criminals.