225. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which the Criminal Assets Bureau continues to pursue organised crime activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12376/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is a multi-agency statutory body established under the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996. The Bureau’s remit is to target a person's assets, wherever situated, which derive, or are suspected to derive, directly or indirectly, from criminal conduct.
Since its inception, the Bureau has been at the forefront of fighting organised crime in this jurisdiction and disrupting the activities of criminal gangs through the removal of their ill-gotten gains.
The Bureau is widely regarded, both nationally and internationally, as a best practice model in the context of combating organised crime. The structure and powers of the Bureau have also been modelled by other jurisdictions as a template for countering those seeking to benefit from the proceeds of crime.
The Bureau works closely with Gardaí and all law enforcement agencies at national and international levels and continues to focus its efforts on targeting assets deriving from all types of criminal conduct.
The Criminal Assets Bureau continues to relentlessly pursue the illicit proceeds of organised crime activity, and to disrupt criminal enterprises and deprive criminals of the benefits of their ill-gotten gains. In doing so, the actions of the Bureau sends a strong message to criminals and to local communities that profiting from crime will not be tolerated.
Reflecting the Government's commitment to ensure that the Bureau is adequately resourced, the CAB’s staffing and budgetary allocation has increased significantly in recent years. Since 2016, the Bureau's staffing resources have increased from 71 to 89, while its budgetary allocation has gone up from €7.042 million in 2016 to €8.648m in 2018.
I am informed that the increased resources of the CAB have given rise to substantially increased levels of Bureau activity in recent years, and its successful operations have become a regular feature in media reports. In 2018, the Bureau brought 30 new Proceeds of Crime proceedings before the High Court, up from 28 in 2017 and 13 in 2016. This is the largest number of new cases ever commenced by the Bureau in a single year. Likewise, the money returned to the State as a result of CAB actions increased from €3.8 million in 2016 to €4.3 million in 2017. I understand that provisional figures indicate that this figure is in excess of €5.6 million for 2018.
I am pleased to say that the number of asset profiles submitted to the Bureau, by the nationwide network of asset profilers, increased from 66 in 2016 to 184 in 2018, a 178 per cent increase. This increase has been driven by the increased numbers of Garda, Revenue and Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection personnel who have been trained as Asset Profilers. There is now a national network of some 378 trained asset profilers as compared with 279 profilers at the end of 2017.