CAB actively investigating 85 targets across Westmeath/Meath Garda Division

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is actively investigating 85 targets in the Westmeath/Meath Garda Division, which is the highest number across the Midlands region.

The number of criminals under investigation is significantly higher than in Laois/Offaly, where the number of targets stands at 47, and it is also higher than the neighbouring Garda Division of Longford/Roscommon, where 66 targets are currently under investigation.

The figures are contained in the Annual Report of the Criminal Assets Bureau for 2020.

The Garda Division with the lowest number of targets under investigation by CAB is Mayo with just five, closely followed by Cork North, which has nine targets being investigated. Outside of the Dublin, the Garda Division with the highest number of targets under investigation by CAB is Limerick, where 194 investigations are underway.

The CAB Annual Report notes that in excess of €4.2 million was yielded to the Irish Exchequer as a result of proceeds of crime actions by CAB, along with actions under the Revenue and Social Protection provisions.

In addition to the €4.2 million, the Exchequer also benefitted to the tune of over €1 million under Section 24 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994. This allows for the confiscation of the assets of a person who has been convicted of drug trafficking and where the Courts have determined that the offender has benefitted from the proceeds of that crime.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau is mentioned in the Annual Report, but despite this, the Bureau brought 31 applications before the High Court under the Proceeds of Crime legislation during 2020, which matched the number of applications made in 2019.

While the vast majority of the High Court applications last year related to drug trafficking cases, other frequent crime types related to theft, burglary, fraud and money laundering.

A key plank of the CAB focus going forward is in the area of education, and the Annual Report highlights the launch of a Postgraduate Diploma in Proceeds of Crime & Asset Investigation, which took place in February of last year, and will be facilitated in partnership with the University of Limerick.

Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys TD, said, "Even during the circumstances of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Criminal Assets Bureau continues to play a crucial role in deterring illegal activity by freezing and confiscating assets identified as deriving from the proceeds of crime. The Bureau is an example of international best practice in law enforcement and over the last 25 years has demonstrated how we, as a country, can lead the way in tackling serious crime.

"The 2020 Annual Report evidences the hard work and dedication of Chief Bureau Officer Mick Gubbins and all of the staff and agencies involved in CAB and I would like to thank them for their ongoing efforts and determination to deprive criminals of the benefits of their illegal activity. This Government is fully committed to continuing to support the excellent work that the Bureau does.

"I welcome the agreement that was reached earlier this year between Minister Helen McEntee and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath to establish a new Community Safety Innovation Fund, to reflect the significant successes of An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau in disrupting criminal activity and seizing proceeds of crime by providing additional funding for investment in community safety projects. The fund will encourage and recognise the efforts of local communities on the ground to improve community safety based on their local experience and unique perspectives. Successful projects can then be shared across the country.”