Brisk 2018 marks busiest year yet for Criminal Assets Bureau

Agency that pursues proceeds of crime now has almost 1,000 targets in its sights

The bureau, which works closely with gardaí but is an independent agency, was set up in response to the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996.

The bureau, which works closely with gardaí but is an independent agency, was set up in response to the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996.

 

The Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) had its most active year since its foundation two decades ago and now has nearly 1,000 targets on its books.

A total of 973 targets have been identified by the bureau. Two years ago in 2016 this figure was 600.

The increase is largely due to the training of local gardaí as assets “profilers” for the bureau. They identify unexplained wealth and suspicious transaction in their communities and report it.

The Cab trained 100 additional profilers in 2018, bringing the total to 378. All but 28 of these are gardaí.

The increase is bearing fruit in the number of new cases it receives. The Cab received 177 new cases from local profilers in 2018, up from 101 last year.

About 80 of its targets are believed to have amassed wealth by committing burglaries countrywide as part of organised gangs. The Cab also served 18 tax assessments against burglary suspects in 2018, up from seven in 2017.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of the Cab’s targets are based in the Dublin area. Outside Dublin, Co Limerick is the biggest target area with 72 suspects. Meath and Wexford both contain 40 followed by Kildare (38), Louth (33), Tipperary (29), Cavan-Monaghan (25), Kerry (22), Offaly (22), Kilkenny-Carlow (20), Cork city (18) and Galway (17).

The bureau carried out 34 search operations in 2018, some of them involving highly co-ordinated, simultaneous raids on multiple sites. In one of its largest operations, which targeted organised crime, it searched 39 locations across five counties.

The bureau, which works closely with gardaí but is an independent agency, was set up in response to the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996. It can seize assets, possessions and homes if it believes they are the proceeds of crime, either directly or indirectly.

Earlier this month the High Court ruled that cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, seized by the Cab can be considered the proceeds of crime. The court made the ruling in approving a seizure of €25,000 worth of cryptocurrency from a convicted drug dealer.

As well as targeting high-level organised criminals, including those involved in the Hutch-Kinahan feud, the Cab is also increasingly going after those who commit more low level offences including burglary, prostitution, smuggling and social welfare fraud.