Thursday, 2 May 2013

Questions (35)

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

35. Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will update Dáil Éireann on the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20782/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Criminal Assets Bureau is a vital component in the State's law enforcement response to serious and organised crime. The remit of the Bureau is to target those persons who seek to derive benefit from criminal activities. In carrying out this role the Bureau utilises all available legal remedies, primarily those contained in the Proceeds of Crime legislation, Taxes legislation and Social Welfare legislation, to deprive persons of benefits obtained from the proceeds of crime.

It has long been acknowledged that one of the key strengths of the Bureau is its multi-agency structure, comprising members of An Garda Síochána, officials of the Revenue Commissioners (tax and customs), officials of the Department of Social Protection, a Bureau Legal Officer and administrative and technical staff.

Bureau processes are continuously being evaluated and, where necessary, strengthened to maximise the number of cases brought and assets targeted. Since its inception, notable developments in this regard have been the establishment of a Bureau Analysis Unit within the Bureau and the ongoing training and recruitment programme for asset profilers. There are now in the region of 200 asset profilers in place throughout the jurisdiction providing an asset profiling service to the Bureau.

With regard to future developments, an Expert Group, established under the auspices of my Department, is currently engaged in a comprehensive review of the Proceeds of Crime legislation with a view to identifying possible improvements which would serve to strengthen the operation of the Bureau.

At international level it is recognised that well developed systems for the confiscation of criminal assets, together with law enforcement cooperation in tracing, identifying and seizing such assets, is vital to the targeting of organised crime activity.

Internationally, the Bureau continues to liaise and conduct investigations with law enforcement and judicial authorities throughout Europe and worldwide in pursuit of assets deriving from criminal conduct.

All monies collected by the Bureau are returned to the Exchequer in accordance with the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime legislation. In 2011, Proceeds of Crime cases yielded in excess of €2.7 million to the Exchequer. In addition, the Bureau, using appropriate Revenue provisions, forwarded in excess of €3.8 million to the Exchequer and recovered in excess of €454,000 under Social Welfare provisions.

Further more detailed information concerning the operation of the Bureau is made available in the Annual Reports of the activities of the Criminal Assets Bureau. These reports are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and published on my Department's website at www.justice.ie.