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Government Approval To Draft Legislation Enhancing CAB Powers Secured.

The Minister for Justice, Mrs Helen McEntee TD, has announced plans for legislation to further strengthen the State’s ability to seize criminal assets.

Giving details of a Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill 2024, which will make significant changes to the Proceeds of Crime Act, the minister said that following Cabinet approval, she expected the Bill to be drafted and brought before the Oireachtas this year.

Noting that the Bill will strengthen the ability of the Criminal Assets Bureau to target the proceeds of crime, the Minister said: “Last year, over 600 asset profilers worked tirelessly, all over the country, in different Garda divisions, operating as the eyes and ears of CAB.
Their job is to deliver first-hand knowledge of criminality in their local areas. Now, this new Bill will ensure that when, on foot of their great work, a Court determines property is the proceeds of crime, immediate action can be taken to ensure that the holder immediately loses the benefit of it. It also speeds up the process to dispose of the asset for the benefit of the State.
As it stands presently, once the High Court has determined that an asset is a proceed of crime, it can take at least seven years before it may be ultimately confiscated. This proposed Bill will reduce that period to two years.
We know crime has no respect for national borders which is why I am pleased that the Bill will also see improved information exchange powers between CAB and law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions.
Provisions such as these send a message to those involved in organised criminality that they will not be allowed to enjoy the profits of their illegal activity, and it will show communities that we take organised crime extremely seriously”.

Between 1996 and 2022, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) denied and deprived criminals of over €210 million worth of assets, that were returned to the Exchequer. Of this latter sum, €35.5 million was under the proceeds of crime legislation.

Referring to CAB’s success, Minister McEntee noted: “The Criminal Asset Bureau (CAB) has been a vital tool in our arsenal in the fight against organised crime. It hits criminals where it hurts; in their pockets by targeting the ill-gotten gains through criminal conduct.
This Bill will support CAB further in its important work. That is why I am pleased to be able to publish it and as I do, I would like to take this opportunity to again acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Chief Bureau Officer Mr Mick Gubbins and all of the staff and agencies involved in CAB.”

The Minister also highlighted the work her Department has also made in reinvesting the proceeds of crime, in tandem with the work of CAB.

In 2021 the government established the Community Safety Innovation Fund, which reinvests proceeds of crime, returned to the Exchequer by CAB, back into communities to fund innovative local projects aimed at building stronger, safer communities.

Under Budget 2024, €7.9m will be allocated towards community safety initiatives, including €3.75m for the Community Safety Innovation Fund, which is an increase of almost €1 million on last year.

Minister McEntee said: “Putting this money back into the community is a really tangible way of showing that there can be a direct link between the activities of law enforcement and improved feelings of community safety.
It is vital that we empower our communities to proactively address safety concerns and in the process, build stronger, safer communities and I’ve said consistently that the people who are best placed to know and respond to local safety issues are communities themselves.
This fund reflects the continued successes of An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau seizing the ill-gotten gains of criminals and I was delighted that we were able to increase the size of this fund under Budget 2024″
.

Following Government approval, the General Scheme of the Bill will now be forwarded to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice for pre-legislative scrutiny, in accordance with Dáil Standing Order 173.

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