State recoups €6.5m through Cab investigations

Cases taken over drug trafficking, cigarette smuggling and social welfare fraud

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau is  “one of the key law enforcement responses to tackling crime”. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau is “one of the key law enforcement responses to tackling crime”. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

 

A boat, jewellery, holiday homes and cars were among the property seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau which resulted in €6.5 million being returned to the State in 2011.

The property, which also included money in banks accounts, residential and commercial property, included €2.7 million recouped from the assets and €3.8 million in taxes and interest, according to the bureau’s 2011 annual report.

Almost €2.7 million was given back to victims of fraud, according to the 2011 annual report.

The bureau had €7.1 million of goods and property frozen in 2011 with orders also obtained to stop any dealing in goods and property worth €5.3 million.

Drug trafficking, illegal fuel trade and cigarette smuggling were among the cases taken in 2011.

The bureau also took cases against 120 people over social welfare fraud which resulted in savings of over €600,000 after benefits were stopped or reduced.

Over €1.5 million was overpaid in social welfare payments, the bureau discovered.

Over €450,000 was recovered from social welfare fraud, including: over €340,000 in job seekers’ allowance, over €60,000 in one-parent allowances and over €40,000 in disability allowance.

The report said the bureau had “focused on significant abuse of the social welfare system” and had increased the number of workers assigned to such investigations through secondments from the Department of Social Protection.

It highlights that one of its solicitors had been assigned to the Chief State Solicitor’s Unit and had not been replaced. “This has generated a backlog of work and this has contributed to a reduction of the number of new cases which could be brought in the course of the year,” said the report.

Two people were arrested during 2011 and charged with “alleged intimidation and threats to bureau officers”, the report said.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said the report showed “the effectiveness of a co-ordinated, multi agency approach to targeting the proceeds of criminal conduct.”

He added: “The work of the bureau is one of the key law enforcement responses to tackling crime and the Government is very much committed to further strengthening the powers of the bureau through forthcoming legislative proposals.”

Garda commissioner Martin Callinan said the report highlighted the continuing efforts of the agency to recoup monies for the Exchequer.

He said the force would “continue to target serious organised criminals operating and national and international levels in the most efficient manner, and using advanced policing methodologies”.

Mr Callinan said the “important and pioneering work of CAB continuted to lead the way in the dismantling of criminal networks. It could not be completed without ! the continued excellent support of the members of the public working together with members of An Garda Síochána”.