I propose to take Questions Nos. 859, 860 and 864 together.
I have been informed by the Garda Authorities that full cooperation has been extended by the agencies of other jurisdictions from whom assistance has been sought in the investigation of suspected money-laundering offences.
The nature of the international cooperation which is appropriate to such investigations includes the use of agencies such as Interpol, Europol and the Egmont Group of Financial Investigation Units. In addition, Memoranda of Understandings have been signed between the Financial Intelligence Unit (Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigations) and their FIU counterparts in twelve other jurisdictions.
Given the complex nature of this type of criminality, it is impossible to make a reliable estimate of its full extent. One of the many difficulties encountered in such investigations is the extent to which legitimate business structures are used for the laundering of the proceeds of crime. All money laundering cases are fully investigated by the Money Laundering Investigation Unit at the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation. The transnational nature of the offence of money laundering is also a feature of this type of crime which has been observed globally.
In order to combat this, a range of measures have been implemented which assist law enforcement agencies across jurisdictions, including the implementation of the forty recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and its nine special recommendations. The measures in question require jurisdictions to enact similar legislation in an effort to prevent use of the financial systems for money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The legislation in place in the Irish jurisdiction in terms of the investigation and prosecution of offences of money laundering represents best practice internationally as has been reflected in the reports of the FATF. This will be further enhanced following enactment of legislation, currently being drafted, giving effect to the third EU Money-Laundering Directive.
The current legislative measures to prevent money laundering are set out in the Criminal Justice Act 1994 as amended by the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 and the Terrorist Financing Act 1995. Extensive use is also made of the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) legislation as a means of gathering evidence in other jurisdictions for use in investigations in the Irish jurisdiction and visa versa.
Comprehensive guidelines have also been issued by the Financial Regulator to Financial Institutions and other designated bodies.
The effectiveness of these measures may be gauged by the number of suspicious transaction reports received annually by the Financial Intelligence Unit, with approximately 12,000 reports received which are referred to An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners for appropriate investigation.