Crime bosses are increasingly buying less flashy top-end vehicles in a bid to avoid the attention of gardaí.
The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) seized greater numbers of more mid-range, but still valuable, vehicles during operations in 2014, according to its annual report.
CAB officers confiscated eight vehicles in 2014, worth €76,500, compared to just two vehicles in 2013.
The annual report shows that 22 assets were frozen by the High Court on the request of CAB under the Proceeds of Crime Act in 2014, with a total value of €6.76.
This compared to assets worth €2.8m in 2013, reflecting a jump of 140%.
In addition to the vehicles seized in 2014, other assets include:
The report says that 2014 “marked a significant increase in the value” of assets frozen.
The report states the value of property, in respect of the State disposing of it, continued to fall in 2014, reflecting the trend of previous years.
It says the bureau “continued to note the interest of those involved in serious organised crime in high-value vehicles”.
The report states: “However, during 2014 the bureau targeted a number of mid-range valued vehicles. This is, in part, a response to actions being taken by those involved in crime to purchase lower valued vehicles in an attempt to avoid detection.”
The vehicles seized included BMW M5 and 535 models, a Nissan Skyline, a Honda Fireblade motorbike, a Citroen CS estate, an Isuzu Trooper, a Ford Transit van, and a Toyota Avensis.
In the annual report, CAB boss Detective Chief Superintendent Eugene Corcoran said a total of €3.8m was handed over to the exchequer, including €470,000 under PAC legislation, €3m in taxes, and €336,000 recovered in social welfare overpayments.
He said most of the new High Court applications under PAC were against drug traffickers, while others targeted criminals involved in fuel laundering and organised gangs involved in burglaries and robberies.
The bureau comprises gardaí (37), staff from Revenue (12), and six officials from Social Protection. The Revenue officers issued tax demands amounting to €10.9m in 2014 from 34 individuals, based on their estimated earnings from crime.
Some €3m in tax was collected during 2014.
The report also documents continuing abuse of the social-welfare system by criminals and their family members.
It shows that savings of €190,000 were made through the termination or reduction of payments.
This included €77,000 in jobseeker’s allowances, €72,000 in one-parent family allowances, and €32,000 in disability allowances.
Social protection staff in the bureau also identified a total of over €1m in overpayments, more than half of it jobseeker’s allowances.
The officials managed to recover €336,000, including €141,000 in disability allowances and €130,000 in jobseeker’s allowances.
The report states that the bureau was also involved in a number of criminal prosecutions.
Since the bureau was set up in October 1996, following the murder of Veronica Guerin, it has frozen assets worth €79m, collected taxes worth €147m, and made social-welfare savings and recoveries of €10m.
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