CAB to push EU on expanding seizure law
Published 05/04/2010 | 05:00
IRELAND is pushing its EU counterparts to widen legislation allowing the seizure of criminal assets.
In a number of European countries at the moment, courts will only allow the seizures where the owners have already been convicted of a criminal offence.
However, Irish authorities want them to agree to implement the Irish model, where civil forfeits can be approved without the need for a criminal conviction.
The "hot" issue is being debated as part of an initiative known as the Stockholm Programme. Ireland's case is being put by the legal officer of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), Frank Cassidy.
Agreement will make it easier for CAB to move against assets which have been acquired overseas by Irish criminals with the profits gleaned from activities such as drug trafficking and tiger kidnaps.
This is being backed up by a review of the powers available to CAB by a special working group set up by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern.
The group is looking at improving arrangements for sharing information between CAB and similar organisations overseas and reaching agreement with relevant authorities where assets which are forfeited as a result of joint investigations can be shared.
Other measures to strengthen the hand of the chief bureau officer, Det Chief Supt Pat Byrne and his 66 staff, include introducing the short-term seizure of assets believed to be the proceeds of crime, pending further investigation, increasing the powers of receivers over properties to immediately deprive criminals of the use of those assets, and granting powers to the bureau chief officer to sign short-term orders for CAB where a judge is not immediately available.
The group is also carrying out an analysis of the existing legislation and of Dail debates and court judgments on asset seizures.