New legislation needed to access online criminal communications, says bureau chief

Head of CAB warns of lawyers and accountants advising criminals on ‘how to put assets beyond our reach’

The head of the Criminal Assets Bureau has said fresh legislation is needed to help the bureau combat advances in technology and communications that are being capitalised on by elements within organised crime.

Det Chief Supt Eugene Corcoran, in an interview with The Irish Times, has also spoken out against lawyers and accountants who help criminals disguise their assets.

“There is a lot of professional advice available to criminals in terms of how to put assets beyond our reach so we have got to have the expertise in place that can unravel that kind of scheme. They may not always do so knowingly. On the other hand, it may be obvious and there are certain reporting obligations on all professional people in terms of dealing with particular suspicious transactions.

Online networking
"There is a minority who will become involved directly and do so knowingly. We've had some prosecutions in relation to that."


Chief Supt Corcoran said increased freedom to travel and the rapid growth of online networking has made the job of seizing criminal assets and stifling illegal activity more difficult.

“Our legislation doesn’t keep abreast of advances perhaps as quickly as it should,” he said. “If you take all of the communications systems [such as social networking] and the possibilities that are opened up in that sphere, it’s not unreasonable that in certain circumstances access to data of that kind should be part and parcel of what’s available. . .

Data evidence
"There must be some balancing in terms of what data should be available in a law enforcement capacity with appropriate supervision – much the same as with any search for evidence in a conventional sense. I don't see any particular difficulty with extending that into the advances that have taken place."

Meanwhile, the bureau will be back before the Supreme Court next Friday as part of its efforts to seize a house on the Jessbrook estate where convicted criminal John Gilligan's estranged wife Geraldine still resides.

The rest of the 80-acre estate, near Johnstownbridge on the Kildare-Meath border, has been seized by the bureau and is currently for sale.

A Garda source said a number of “firm offers” had been received for the property and “we’re hopeful the sale will be completed in weeks”.