By Cate McCurry, PA
The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has “denied and deprived” criminals of €199 million since it was set up 25 years ago.
Officers from the CAB said they are uncovering more high-end and extravagant items from criminal gangs, including gyroplanes and cars.
They said gangs are also investing in bloodstock and cryptocurrency as part of their criminal enterprise.
Garda Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Gubbins made the comments as the CAB marks 25 years since it was established.
It has recovered a total of €198,812,176 and seized assets to the value of €165,432,894.
Detective Gubbins said recent searches of properties owned by criminals have uncovered large amounts of expensive designer watches and jewellery.
“It’s the cars that they drive, it’s the extensions and renovations and upgrades to their houses,” he added.
“We’ve seen some unusual items like gyroplanes, they have also invested in bloodstock and animal stuff over the years as well.
Honoured to join Cmsr Harris and Det Chief Supt Michael Gubbins to mark 25 years of the CAB, established by Nora Owen and Ruairi Quinn after the murders of Jerry McCabe and Veronica Guerin. CAB is a leading example of how to tackle criminals by their seizing ill gotten gains. pic.twitter.com/SjbuwEBW04
— Heather Humphreys (@HHumphreysFG) October 15, 2021
“A lot of it is around property and I’ve seen some cryptocurrency and I expect to see more of that as we go into the next few years.”
The CAB was established following the enactment of the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996.
The bureau’s budget has increased from €1.053 million in 1996 to €9.961 million – a rise of 845 per cent.
Detective Gubbins said that the bureau remains a key part of the armoury of the State in tackling criminal activity, particularly serious and organised criminal activity.
He said the establishment of the bureau was an “innovative and courageous development” in the fight against criminality.
“Even today, a quarter of a century later, both the proceeds of crime legislation and its organisational structure is widely considered an international exemplar in investigation and confiscation of the proceeds of crime,” he added.
Commissioner Drew Harris said the legislation was enacted against the backdrop of an increasing number of organised crime gangs.
“A quarter of a century ago, the sale and supply of illegal drugs was on the rise. The trafficking of drugs was becoming a lucrative criminal business and demand was high,” Mr Harris added.
“This is how the criminal model worked, particularly the organised crime model.
Heather Humphreys TD (Minister for Justice and Social Protection), Chief Supt Michael Gubbins (Chief Bureau Officer) and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris commemorated the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Criminal Assets Bureau today at Garda HQ in Phoenix Park. #DenyandDeprive pic.twitter.com/96AGfoOrTr
— Garda Info (@gardainfo) October 15, 2021
“It preys on people, it preys and victimises people, predominately those in disadvantaged areas but also preys on their communities and their families.
“While much of the focus is still placed on drug trafficking, the range of crimes now also extends into areas of theft, burglary, fraud and money laundering.”
Over its 25 years, Revenue Bureau Officers have collected more than €161.4 million.
The number of proceeds of crime cases brought before the High Court has risen from six in 1996 to 31 last year.
It has targeted 1,851 people, including 35 people living outside the state.
Social Welfare Bureau Officers have recovered in excess of €5.03 million.
In 2015, the bureau saw its first cryptocurrency seizure.