11-fold jump in value of criminal assets frozen in year

There was an 11-fold increase in the value of assets frozen last year from suspected crime bosses, according to new figures.

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) annual report for 2017 reveals vehicles, financial assets, jewellery, and property worth over €7m had been frozen. This contrasts with seized assets worth just €643,000 in 2016.

This was due to the large jump in the number of High Court cases taken by the bureau in 2017 seeking the freezing of assets, pending court examination.

There were 28 High Court cases brought last year, which the bureau said was “the largest number of proceeds-of-crime cases commenced in a single year” since CAB began.

There were only 13 such cases in 2016. The 28 cases involved 100 assets, compared to 34 assets in 2016.

Of the assets, 44 were vehicles (a massive jump on just six in 2016), 35 were financial assets (up from 18), 12 were jewellery (10), and eight were property (zero in 2016).

Other headline details, reported this week in the Irish Examiner, show €4.3m was returned to the exchequer (€3.8m in 2016).

They included €1.7m under proceeds of crime (€1.4m in 2016), €2.4m from tax payments (€2.1m), and €32,000 from social welfare overpayments (€297,000).

The report shows that 108 additional local asset profilers were trained in 2017, bringing the total number to 279 (259 gardaí, 15 Revenue officers, five social welfare officers).

It resulted in 101 asset profiles being sent from the divisional profilers targeting local criminal suspects, compared to 66 cases in 2016.

Cases targeted included a drug dealer from Dublin who had bought a large property in the south-east for his family; six members of an organised crime group targeting the elderly, also in the south-east; and a criminal selling ‘clocked’ cars in the western region.

The report said the Special Crime Task Force, set up to target second- and third-level members of organised crime gangs in Dublin, had six of its gardaí and a sergeant seconded to the bureau. They had identified 53 targets, bringing the total number of targets investigated to 109 at year’s end.

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