ORGANISED crime gangs are turning to South America to find a safe haven for their financial nest eggs.
The gangsters are investing their profits, mainly from drug trafficking, in commercial property and are particularly interested in Brazil as a location for their ill-gotten gains.
The US is regarded as another favourite, while those criminals who want to keep their property interests closer to home are opting for Belgium.
Gardai say gang bosses are using their growing network of criminal contacts overseas to help. And they are being joined on the list of overseas property moguls by the main players in Traveller gangs, who have been specialising in international crimes including a lucrative trade in rhino horns, ivory and precious stones.
The Travellers have been focusing mainly on the UK and the European mainland for their investments.
Bureau officers have been participating in operations looking into their activities to establish if any of the proceeds from the crimes are being brought back here.
Last year the bureau scored a number of successes against targeted figures in the gangs and other enquiries under the Proceeds of Crime Act are in the pipeline.
At the same time the bureau is examining assets of other Traveller gangs who are known to be heavily involved in burglaries as well as those who have links to drug trafficking.
Many of those under investigation have family links and the bureau finds it is now looking at a younger generation than those who had come under the financial microscope in the past. Associates of all of the estimated 25 organised crime gangs based within the State are on the target list.
In the white-collar crime area, bureau officers are continuing to examine the reports issued by the Mahon and Moriarty tribunals, and this work will not be completed until later this year.
Meanwhile, after scoring three notable pre-Christmas successes against John Gilligan, another court battle has yet to be fought between the Criminal Assets Bureau and lawyers for the crime boss and convicted drug trafficker.
This involves a house, which in the past had been a home for Gilligan and his wife, Geraldine. It is located close to the Jessbrook equestrian centre at Mucklon, on the Kildare-Meath border. Contracts for the sale of the centre are due to be signed in the coming weeks.