CAB take over €10m in tax demands from criminals

THE Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) took almost €10 million from criminals in tax demands last year, new figures show.

The agency also secured High Court approval to provisionally freeze €3m worth of assets derived from criminal activities.

Since it was set up in 1996, the bureau has:

Received €56m in tax settlements out of assessments totalling €78m.

Provisionally froze assets worth €51m, €22m of which have been permanently frozen.

Made social welfare savings of €1.5m.

Launching the agency’s 2003 annual report yesterday, Justice Minister Michael McDowell said it illustrated the bureau’s continued success in the fight against drug trafficking and organised crime.

“The Bureau will continue, with the full support of the Government together with the support of the general public and commercial and financial institutions, to prevent those involved in serious crime from enjoying the proceeds of their illegal activity.” He said there was also an increased number of bureau investigations into white collar crime and

corruption in 2003.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996, the bureau can apply to the High Court for an interim order to freeze property shown to be the proceeds of crime, which has a value of not less than €13,000.

When the High Court grants an interim order, CAB, within 21 days, must apply to the High Court for an interlocutory (or final restraint) order. If granted, the specified property is frozen for seven years. The minister outlined the main points of the 2003 annual report:

Interim orders of over €3m and interlocutory orders of almost €900,000.

Tax demands in excess of €7m and tax collected of almost €10m.

Social welfare savings of €109,654 and recoveries of €199,703.

Chief Supt Felix McKenna of CAB said the sharing of intelligence within Europe was central to the agency’s success.

He said they worked very closely with Europol, the EU police agency.

He said there was growing cooperation with the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) in Northern Ireland, including Operation Nursery which led to charges here and in the North.

He said he looked forward to working with the newly established Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in England.

Chief McKenna said 2003 was unique in that there were two cases, the first of their type, where the criminals “abandoned” money sought from them.

The criminals signed off any claim on the monies, totalling €85,000. The money was sent straight into the State coffers, bypassing the seven-year rule.

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