CAB is targeting six people in Wicklow
The Criminal Assets Bureau is currently targeting six people in County Wicklow.
Speaking at Monday's meeting of the Joint Policing Committee Chief Superintendent Pat Clavin, head of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), said that the organisation is working closely with local gardai to identify the suspected proceeds of criminal activity.
He said that CAB is currently targeting a number of people in Wicklow who are suspected of amassing assets as a result of criminal activity.
'We have a number of targets in the Wicklow division. It is quite low compared to some areas in Dublin. We have six local targets here in Wicklow. There's 325 in all of Dublin and of these 116 are in the Dublin Metropolitan West area while 77 are in Dublin Metropolitan South. So by comparison Wicklow is quite low.'
Chief Superintendent Clavin urged people to report any suspicions they had about criminals and their assets to CAB in confidence.
'We are appealing to the local community to contact us if they suspect someone is involved in crime so that we can make further inquiries. Basically our motto is make them pay and take it away. If people that you know never worked a day in their life but are flaunting their wealth report it.
'Last year we have 27 new proceeds of crime cases in the court ranging in value from €10,000 to €2.7 million.'
Chief Superintendent Clavin said that CAB has the power to seize some assets without a court order under strict conditions and these powers have been exercised on a number of occasions.
He said that he was not in favour of having mini CAB branches dotted around the country believing that basing the officers out of Dublin afforded them better protection. However he said that the links to local gardai and local profiling was strong.
'There are lots of reasons why there shouldn't be mini local CAB's', he said. 'CAB officers have anonymity in Dublin and we can't provide the same protection to officers working in a local community.'
Cllr Joe Behan raised concerns about the safety of those who reported people suspected of criminal activity. He also wondered if there was any way the money and assets seized could be reinvested into local communities.
Chief Superintendent Clavin was quick to reassure him. 'Unlike criminal investigations we won't need anyone to give evidence. We can find out about the assets ourselves. All we need is to get the right target in the first place.'
However he said he wasn't in favour of the money seized being used locally. 'Whatever we take is given back to central funds and I don't favour any change in that. I don't like the idea of having any incentive for us to go after a certain area. It's better that we are totally kept out of the loop.'
Cllr Vincent Blake said that CAB had been set up in 1996 after the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin. 'It's very sad that that had to take place before we took action.'
He wondered if the overseas assets of criminals taken into account and wondered if the new DNA database will have any impact on the work of CAB.
Chief Superintendent Clavin said that CAB works with various agencies nationally and internationally to go after foreign assets. In respect of the DNA database he said that it will have very little impact on CAB as 'we don't go after a person we go after assets'.
Cllr Gail Dunne wondered how the six targets in Wicklow compared with figures from similar counties bordering Dublin such as Kildare and Meath.
Chief Superintendent Clavin said that while the number of targets in Wicklow was quite low it could be viewed either positively or negatively adding that CAB figures are based on where a target is living.
He said that CAB is growing incrementally and are getting resources when they are needed adding it was able to draw on the resources of local divisions.
Cllr Daire Nolan wondered if CAB is able to get extradition orders if a criminal moves to Europe or further afield to which Chief Superintendent Clavin said that while it does work with Interpol and other organisations extradition isn't a concern of theirs because 'it's assets we go for'.
Chairman of the Joint Policing Committee (JPC) Cllr Gerry Walsh, who is a retired guard, said that '1996 was a dark, dark years for the country in terms of law and order' referencing the murder of Detective Garda Gerry McCabe and Veronica Guerin. 'The reaction to the introduction of CAB was very welcome. People were flaunting their wealth and giving the two fingers to society and to the gardai.'
He asked 'how far do CAB's tentacles reach to get assets'.
Chief Superintendent Clavin said that CAB is aware that some criminals have moved abroad adding it works with other law enforcement agencies.
Cllr Vincent Blake if the 'new, younger criminals' coming up were worst than their predecessors.
Chief Superintendent Clavin said 'these are challenging times. The number of criminal gangs and the level of viciousness has increased. There is an assumption that criminals have gotten really sophisticated and are quite smart at hiding their wealth but some of them are really stupid and flaunt their wealth with houses and cars.
'We are now concerned with virtual currency and some criminals are operating on the dark net.'