CAB actively investigating 47 targets across Laois/Offaly Garda Division

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is actively investigating 47 targets across the Laois/Offaly Garda Division.

The number of criminals under investigation is the lowest in the Midlands, with the neighbouring Division of Westmeath/Meath having 85 criminals on the CAB radar, and a total of 66 criminals under investigation in Roscommon/Longford.

The figures are contained in the Annual Report of the Criminal Assets Bureau for 2020.

Of the other Garda Divisions which border Laois/Offaly, Kildare has a significantly higher number of criminals under investigation by CAB, at 68, while the sprawling Clare/Tipperary Division has 65 active CAB investigations taking place.

Meanwhile, the number of targets under active investigation in the Kilkenny/Carlow Garda Division, at 48, is just one more than the number being investigated in Laois/Offaly. The Galway Division, which shares a small border with Laois/Offaly, has 87 active investigations underway.

The CAB Annual Report notes that in excess of €4.2 million was yielded to the Irish Exchequer as a result of proceeds of crime actions by CAB, along with actions under the Revenue and Social Protection provisions.

In addition to the €4.2 million, the Exchequer also benefitted to the tune of over €1 million under Section 24 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994. This allows for the confiscation of the assets of a person who has been convicted of drug trafficking and where the Courts have determined that the offender has benefitted from the proceeds of that crime.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau is mentioned in the Annual Report, but despite this, the Bureau brought 31 applications before the High Court under the Proceeds of Crime legislation during 2020, which matched the number of applications made in 2019.

While the vast majority of the High Court applications last year related to drug trafficking cases, other frequent crime types related to theft, burglary, fraud and money laundering.

A key plank of the CAB focus going forward is in the area of education, and the Annual Report highlights the launch of a Postgraduate Diploma in Proceeds of Crime & Asset Investigation, which took place in February of last year, and will be facilitated in partnership with the University of Limerick.

Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys TD, said, "Even during the circumstances of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Criminal Assets Bureau continues to play a crucial role in deterring illegal activity by freezing and confiscating assets identified as deriving from the proceeds of crime. The Bureau is an example of international best practice in law enforcement and over the last 25 years has demonstrated how we, as a country, can lead the way in tackling serious crime.

"The 2020 Annual Report evidences the hard work and dedication of Chief Bureau Officer Mick Gubbins and all of the staff and agencies involved in CAB and I would like to thank them for their ongoing efforts and determination to deprive criminals of the benefits of their illegal activity. This Government is fully committed to continuing to support the excellent work that the Bureau does.

"I welcome the agreement that was reached earlier this year between Minister Helen McEntee and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath to establish a new Community Safety Innovation Fund, to reflect the significant successes of An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau in disrupting criminal activity and seizing proceeds of crime by providing additional funding for investment in community safety projects. The fund will encourage and recognise the efforts of local communities on the ground to improve community safety based on their local experience and unique perspectives. Successful projects can then be shared across the country.”