Seizures boost state coffers by €2.2m
Published 04/01/2011 | 05:00
CASH seizures by Customs officers have boosted state coffers by €2.2m.
The money was paid over after Customs successfully argued for permission to confiscate the cash in the Circuit Court during 2010.
The court granted 25 forfeiture orders during the first 11 months of last year on the basis that the cash was the proceeds of crime.
Among those hit by the seizures were criminals who had amassed their cash from prostitution, cigarette smuggling, drug trafficking, fuel laundering and tax evasion.
A further 41 seizures are to be fought out under the Proceeds of Crime legislation as a result of Customs activities between the start of the year and the end of November.
These amounted in total to another €1.6m after officers targeted criminals involved in drugs and cigarette smuggling and tax evasion.
Most of the money was intercepted as crime gangs attempted to smuggle out of the State through air and sea ports. In some cases, the cash was intended as an investment in a new drugs shipment being sent here from their network of contacts overseas.
In others, the money was earmarked for lavish spending in their new hideaways, particularly in the coastal resorts of Spain.
This year's seizures compare with the confiscation of €1.35m in 34 cases in 2009.
The biggest capture was made at Dublin Airport when officers intercepted a suitcase as it was being loaded on to a flight bound for Brussels.
The case belonged to an Irish drug trafficker. It contained €676,000 in used bank notes -- the proceeds of drug dealing.
The Revenue Commissioners has upped its game in the battle against criminals since it was granted new powers as a result of legislative changes introduced by the Government in 2005.
Until then, Customs officers could only seize cash at air and sea ports if they suspected the money was linked to drug dealing. But amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act meant officers could act if they suspected the money was linked to any criminal activity and they could also seize the cash anywhere in the State.
Armed with their new powers, Customs recruited more officers into that area and since then has confiscated an estimated €7.5m as a result of court orders, with scores of other cases yet to be completed.