An expert group is finalising plans to boost the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau in confiscating the assets of gangsters, including those held abroad.
An expert group was set up under the Department of Justice in 2011 to conduct a two-year examination of the Proceeds of Crime legislation. It has yet to complete its report.
It is looking at:
* Axing the amount of time — currently seven years — before the frozen assets of suspected criminals can be handed over to the State;
* Giving receivers greater powers so that criminals can be immediately deprived of the use of their properties;
* A new short-term seizure of assets pending a court ruling;
* Seeking greater harmonisation of EU laws so that all countries will accept seizure orders based on non-criminal convictions (as in Ireland).
A Department of Justice spokesman said: “An expert group, established under the auspices of this 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 Criminal Assets Bureau.”
He said: “A number of matters are being reviewed by the group, including decreasing the amount of time which must elapse before criminal assets which have been frozen become the property of the State; increasing the powers of receivers over properties so as to immediately deprive criminals of the use of those properties; short-term seizure of assets believed to be the proceeds of crime pending determination by the courts and further improving measures supporting international co-operation.”
CAB conducted an analysis of its cases and found that after two or three years, and definitely after four years, very little happens in relation to confiscation orders. It wants the time period reduced to at least four years.
CAB said it would like a faster receivership system — the stage at which the properties are disposed of and the monies handed to the State. Currently, the same receivership process is used for criminal assets as all other assets.
In relation to international co-operation, CAB would like Irish court orders, based on non-criminal conviction legislation, to be recognised in all EU countries.
This will help efforts to seize assets of Irish criminals across Europe.
The department spokes- man also said a broader review of the legislation was taking into account the recommendations in the Mahon planning tribunal report “concerning asset recovery and confiscation”.
The tribunal said in its report: “The tribunal lauds the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau in recovering assets which are found to have come from corrupt transactions.
“However, the tribunal is also of the view that there would be some merit in having a single conviction- based asset recovery regime, rather than three separate regimes (for drug trafficking, terrorist financing, and for other indictable offences) as is currently the case.”
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