Criminal Assets Bureau

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Criminal Assets Bureau
Criminal Assets Bureau logo.png
Logo of the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Agency overview
Formed 15 October, 1996
Employees 70
Annual budget €6.410 million
Legal personality Non government: Body corporate
Jurisdictional structure
National agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
Ireland relief location map.png
Map of Criminal Assets Bureau's jurisdiction.
Size 84,421 km2
Population 6,399,115
Legal jurisdiction Ireland
Constituting instrument Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Criminal Assets Bureau, Harcourt Square, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2
Elected officer responsible Alan Shatter, TD, Minister for Justice and Equality
Agency executives
  • Eugene Corcoran, Chief Bureau Officer
  • Declan O'Reilly, Bureau Legal Officer
Data as of Annual Report 2012

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) (Irish: An Biúró um Shócmhainní Coiriúla) is a law enforcement agency in Ireland. The CAB was established with powers to focus on the illegally acquired assets of criminals involved in serious crime. The aims of the CAB are to identify the criminally acquired assets of persons and to take the appropriate action to deny such people of these assets. This action is taken particularly through the application of the Proceeds of Crime Act, 1996.[1] The CAB was established as a body corporate with perpetual succession in 1996[2] and is founded on the multi-agency concept, drawing together law enforcement officers, tax officials, social welfare officials as well as other specialist officers including legal officers, forensic analysts and financial analysts.[3] This multi-agency concept is regarded by some as the model for other European jurisdictions.[4][5][6][7]

The CAB is not a division of the Garda Síochána (police)[8][9] but rather an independent body corporate although it has many of the powers normally given to the Gardaí.[10] The Chief Bureau Officer is drawn from a member of the Garda Síochána holding the rank of Chief Superintendent and is appointed by the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána. The remaining staff of the CAB are appointed by the Minister for Justice and Equality.[11] CAB members retain their original powers and possibilities as if they were working within their separate entities and have direct access to information and databases that their original organizations are allowed by law. [12]

The CAB reports annually to the Minister through the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána and this report is laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.[13] The Minister for Justice, in publishing the 2011 CAB Annual Report, stated: "The work of the bureau is one of the key law enforcement responses to tackling crime and the Government is very much committed to further strengthening the powers of the bureau through forthcoming legislative proposals."[14] In publishing the Bureau's 2012 report the Minister for Justice set out: "The Annual Report provides an insight into the workings of the Bureau and highlights the advantage of adopting a multi-agency and multi-disciplinary approach to the targeting of illicit assets. The Bureau is an essential component in the State’s law enforcement response to serious and organised crime and the Government is fully committed to further strengthening its powers through future legislative reform."[15]

The CAB has been effective against organised criminals, especially those involved in the importation and distribution of drugs. It has also been used against corrupt public officials.[16]


The statutory objectives of the CAB are –

  1. the identification of the assets of persons which derive, or are suspected to derive, directly or indirectly from criminal conduct;
  2. the taking of appropriate action under the law to deprive or to deny those persons of such assets or the benefit of such assets, and
  3. the pursuit of any necessary investigation or other preparatory work in relation to relevant proceedings.[17]

The emergence of CAB signalled a more focused approach on targeting the financial proceeds of crime than previously existed.[18]


The CAB collected €89 million in taxes in its first ten years of existence and it also engaged in initiatives to curtail international criminality.[19] The CAB has a staff of 70, including members of Garda Síochána, Revenue Commissioners, (both customs and taxes officers), and civil servants from the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Justice and Equality.[20] Its annual budget for 2011 was €6.673 million, of which 86% is salary cost.[21] This was reduced to €6.410 million in 2012. Officers and staff of the CAB (with the exception of members of the Garda Síochána and the Bureau Legal Officer) are protected with statutory anonymity.[22] This anonymity, whilst causing some concerns, has been recognised an important practical issue for all countries when faced with action against people who may be involved in violent crime and extortion and recognises that although police and customs officers are usually trained to deal with such threats and to expect them, revenue and social security officials do not reasonably expect to have to deal with such risks when they take a job.[23]

Fachtna Murphy was the first Chief Bureau Officer and Barry Galvin[24] was the first Bureau Legal Officer.[25] The current Chief Bureau Officer is Detective Chief Superintendent Eugene Corcoran[26] (who succeeded Patrick Byrne[27]) and the current Bureau Legal Officer is Declan O'Reilly.[28][29] The Bureau Legal Officer is appointed following a recruitment campaign run by the Public Appointments Service.[30]


The CAB was established in October 1996 by the then Minister for Justice, Nora Owen TD, and was given statutory powers on 15 October 1996 by the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996 (Establishment Day) Order, 1996 (SI 310/1996).[31] The CAB was established to deal with increasing levels of serious organised crime in Ireland, most notable being the murders of crime reporter Veronica Guerin and Detective Garda Jerry McCabe.[32][33][34]

The CAB was set up by the Oireachtas as a body corporate primarily for the purpose of ensuring that persons should not benefit from any assets acquired by them from any criminal activity. It was given power to take all necessary actions in relation to seizing and securing assets derived from criminal activity, certain powers to ensure that the proceeds of such activity are subject to tax, and also in relation to the Social Welfare Acts. However, as the High Court has noted, it is not a prosecuting body nor a police authority but rather it is an investigating authority which, having investigated and used its powers of investigation, then applies to the High Court for assistance in enforcing its functions.[35]

A novel or radical aspect[36] of the CAB was the use of civil forfeiture to freeze and seize the proceeds of criminal conduct under the Proceeds of Crime Act, 1996. Civil forfeiture involved a recognition on the part of the State that conventional methods of tackling organised crime were ineffective.[37] Whilst the CAB was perhaps intended to confiscate the assets of drug dealers and those involved in organised crime its powers can extend to all assets that are the result of criminal activity.[38] Even though the CAB focuses on serious and organised crime, it has increasingly moved against low- and medium-level offenders who may present as poor role models within their communities, albeit that these cases often cost more to bring than they return financially.[39] The CAB has been distinguished from other agencies who tackle serious organised crime in Ireland in that those agencies may be typified as being reactive whereas the CAB is proactive; a fact which may be considered as representing a significant development in crime control.[40]

In 2005, the CAB's powers were amended by Part 3 of the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005.[41] The purpose of this Act was to make further provision in relation to the recovery and disposal of proceeds of crime. This involved amending four different acts as follows:

  1. the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996,
  2. the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996,
  3. the Criminal Justice Act 1994, and
  4. the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 2001.

The Act was intended to substantially bolster the powers of the CAB in the continuing battle to target the proceeds of all types of crime and will extend those powers to the proceeds of white-collar crime and corruption. The substantial provisions of the Act extended the proceeds of crime legislation to cover foreign criminality and corrupt enrichment. In addition, there were a number of technical provisions relating to court procedures, search powers and evidence.[42]

Proceeds of crime[edit]

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 & 2005 if the CAB can satisfy the High Court on the balance of probabilities that specified property is the proceeds of crime, the court will make an interim order over the property preventing anybody from dealing with it. This order stays in place for 21 days, following which an application is made for an interlocutory hearing, on notice to any person who has an interest in that property. If it appears to the court that such property is the proceeds of crime, despite anything said by any respondent, an interlocutory order is put in place for a period of seven years. In the course of that time any person who can satisfy the court that the property is not the proceeds of crime can move to have the order lifted. If no such order has been granted during those seven years, the CAB can seek a disposal order effectively extinguishing anybody’s rights to the properties and transferring it to the central exchequer.[43]

The Supreme Court[44] in reviewing the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 concluded:

... as has been pointed out, repeatedly, a person directly or indirectly in possession of the proceeds of crime can have no constitutional grievance if deprived of their use. The Proceeds of Crime Acts 1996-2005 are identified as being legislation "to enable the High Court, as respects the proceeds of crime, to make orders for the preservation and, where appropriate, the disposal of property concerned and to provide for related matters". There is a strong public policy dimension to this legislation. That policy is to ensure that persons do not benefit from assets which were obtained with the proceeds of crime irrespective of whether the person benefiting actually knew how such property was obtained with the proceeds of crime but subject to whether or not such person may have been a bona fide purchaser for value, where different considerations may arise.

The Act provides for fair procedures to be observed. It cannot be seen as arbitrary. It is designed to achieve a desirable social objective and be proportionate. It cannot be said to impinge on a right to private property, as the property was acquired unlawfully. One of the facts to be borne in mind is the extent to which, as a result of the commission of crime, persons may directly or indirectly benefit in a way not open to other members of the community, such as living without the requirements of payments of tax, mortgage repayments or rent. These activities are profoundly anti-social and contrary to the common good. The interference with the rights of private property embodied in Article 40.3.2 and Article 43 of the Constitution and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights are, therefore, proportionate and in accordance with law.

— MacMenamin J.

Some have suggested that, for example, a bridal gift from a perpetual tax evader to his daughter might now find itself on the responding end of an order from the CAB.[45]

Ad Hoc Legal Aid[edit]

The Department of Justice and Equality operated the CAB Ad Hoc Legal Aid Scheme until 2014.[46] However, from 1 January 2014 the remit for the administration of the Scheme transferred to the Legal Aid Board.[47] The scheme is applicable to persons who are respondents and/or defendants in any court proceedings brought by, or in the name of, the CAB or its Chief Bureau Officer or any member of the CAB, including court proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996, Revenue Acts or Social Welfare Acts.

The scheme also includes:

  • social welfare appeals made to the Circuit Court under Section 34 of the Social Welfare Act 1997;
  • tax appeals made to the Circuit Court under the Taxes Acts where the CAB or its Chief Bureau Officer or any member of the CAB is the respondent and/or defendant; and
  • applications made by the Director of Public Prosecutions under Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994

The Ad Hoc Legal Aid Scheme provides that the grant of legal aid, including the level of legal representation and/or witness expenses allowed, is a matter for the court with the appropriate jurisdiction to deal with the specific case. The calculation of fees which apply to counsel representing the legally aided person is made in accordance with the mechanism which is in operation under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 and the Regulations made under that Act.

The CAB Ad Hoc Legal Aid Scheme cost €334,000 in 2009, up 18% from the previous year’s figure of €283,000. It cost €257,000 in 2010.[48]


  • CAB obtained 48 court orders against 77 defendants relating to the proceeds of crime, including the proceeds from the sale of five houses and seven cars.[citation needed]
  • Interim orders were made to stop criminals dispensing assets in excess of €6 million[citation needed]
  • €16.3 million was collected in taxes and interest arising from the enforcement of Taxes Acts in 2005.[49]
  • Social Welfare payments obtained suspected of being obtained under false pretences, or through overpayment are investigated. Social welfare savings of €216,054 were achieved in 2005 and €294,000 was recovered from people defrauding the system[citation needed]
  • Sums amounting to over €18.5 million (€348,000 in 2004) frozen under court orders under Section 3 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 were remitted to the Minister for Finance for the benefit of the central fund in 2005.

International cooperation[edit]

The statutory functions of the Criminal Assets Bureau include the taking of all necessary actions for the purpose of the freezing and confiscation of assets suspected of deriving from criminal activity and that such actions include, where appropriate, subject to any international agreement, cooperation with any police force or any authority outside Ireland which has functions related to the recovery of proceeds of crime.[50][51][52]

CAB represents Ireland at the Camden Assets Recovery Interagency Network (CARIN), a group which aims to improve informal cross-border and inter-agency cooperation within the European Union and elsewhere. CAB currently sits on the CARIN steering group. The CAB held the presidency of CARIN in 2005 and again in 2013.[53]

EU Council Decision 2007/845/JHA obliges Member States to set up or designate national Asset Recovery Offices (AROs) as national central contact points which facilitate, through enhanced cooperation, the fastest possible EU-wide tracing of assets derived from crime. This Decision was designed to complete the CARIN by providing a legal basis for the exchange of information between Asset Recovery Offices of all the Member States.[54] The Decision allows the AROs to exchange information and best practices, both upon request and spontaneously, regardless of their status (administrative, law enforcement or judicial authority). It requests AROs to exchange information under the conditions laid down in Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA2 ("the Swedish Initiative") and in compliance with the applicable data protection provisions. Ireland designated the Criminal Assets Bureau as its ARO.[55][56]

In 2008 a Cross Border Fuel Fraud Enforcement Group was established by the Northern Ireland Security Minister, Paul Goggins, and operates under the auspices of the Organised Crime Task Force.[57] On this group, which is chaired by HM Revenue and Customs, sits the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the Northern Ireland Environment Agency together with the CAB, the Revenue Commissioners and the Garda Síochána.[58][59]

The CAB is a member partner of Organised Crime Portfolio (OCP) (HOME/2011/ISEC/AG/FINEC/400000222) which is funded by EU Commission, DG Home Affairs and is carried out by an international consortium coordinated by TranscrimeUniversità Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milan, Italy). The aims of the project are to study the investments of organised crime in European Union Member States, analyse the infiltration of organised crime groups and assess the impact on legitimate markets.[60]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Country legal profiles". European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Section 3 of the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996 Act of the Irish Parliament.
  3. ^ Section 9 of the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996 Act of the Irish Parliament.
  4. ^ Dr. Oliver Lajić (2012). Uporedni pregled sistema za istraživanje i oduzimanje imovine stečene kriminalom [Comparative review of the investigation and confiscation of criminal assets] (in Serbian) 46 (2). Proceedings of the Faculty of Law in Novi Sad – Centre for Evaluation in Education and Science. pp. 207–222. doi:10.5937/zrpfns46-2419. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Mitchell, Gay (2012). "Asset Confiscation as an Instrument to Deprive Criminal Organisations of the Proceeds of their Activities." (PDF). Special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering – (CRIM) 2012–2013. Retrieved 2013-03-21. 
  6. ^ Cormac O’Keeffe (16 October 2009). "European Criminal Assets Bureau based on CAB". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "Minister Shatter publishes the Criminal Assets Bureau Annual Report for the year ending 31 December, 2011" (Press release). Dublin: Department of Justice and Equality. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-26. "The Bureau is a very well developed model for the confiscation of proceeds of crime. This is recognised not only in this jurisdiction but also at international level where the experience of the Bureau is much valued. I have therefore taken steps at EU level to encourage my European colleagues to study the Bureau model and to consider this model in the further development of the EU confiscation framework allowing for mutual recognition of confiscation orders." 
  8. ^ Murphy v. Flood [1999] IEHC 9 at para. 16 (1 July 1999) (Ireland)
  9. ^ Barbara Vettori (2006). Tough on Criminal Wealth: Exploring the Practice of Proceeds from Crime Confiscation in the EU. Springer. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-4020-4129-7. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  10. ^ King, Colin (June 2010). The Confiscation of Criminal Assets: Tackling Organised Crime Through a 'Middleground' System of Justice (Ph.D.). University of Limerick. p. 115. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  11. ^ McKenna, Felix; Egan, Kate (2009). "Chapter 3: Ireland: a multi-disciplinary approach to proceeds of crime". In Young, Simon. Civil Forfeiture of Criminal Assets – Legal Measure for Targeting the Proceeds of Crime. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. pp. 52–91. ISBN 9781847208262. 
  12. ^ Jensson, Arnar (2011). Crime should not pay: Iceland and the International Developments of Criminal Assets Recovery (M.A.). University of Iceland (School of Social Sciences). Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  13. ^ "Criminal Assets Bureau(CAB)". Retrieved 2013-03-21. 
  14. ^ Judith Crosbie (26 April 2013). "State recoups €6.5m through Cab investigations". Irish Times. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Minister Shatter publishes the Criminal Assets Bureau Annual Report for the year ending 31 December 2012" (Press release). Dublin. 2014-04-09. Retrieved 2014-04-10. 
  16. ^ Paul O'Mahony (2002). Criminal justice in Ireland. Institute of Public Administration. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-902448-71-8. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  17. ^ Section 4 of the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996 Act of the Irish Parliament.
  18. ^ 'The Governance of Crime and Security in Ireland (Report). UCD. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
  19. ^ "'Untouchables' of CAB make our criminals pay up to the tune of €16m". Irish Independent (Irish Independent). 26 August 2006. 
  20. ^ 'Criminal Assets Bureau Annual Report 2010' (Report).
  21. ^ Criminal Assets Bureau (29 June 2011). Criminal Assets Bureau Annual Report 2011 (Report). Department of Justice and Equality. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  22. ^ Section 10 of the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996 Act of the Irish Parliament.
  23. ^ Combating Organised Crime: Best-Practice Surveys of the Council of Europe. Council of Europe. 2004. p. 69. ISBN 978-92-871-5476-7. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  24. ^ "'Ireland's Eliot Ness'". The Lawyer. 26 April 1999. Retrieved 2013-03-21. 
  25. ^ "'The Men from the Bureau'". Irish Independent. 17 April 1999. Retrieved 2013-03-21. 
  26. ^ Tom Brady (18 January 2013). "Ministers near deal on criminal assets". Irish Independent. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  27. ^ "The head of the (CAB) Criminal Assets Bureau has been appointed to a major operational post with Europol". Irish Independent. 30 July 2010. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  28. ^ "Extra-Mural Course in White-Collar Crime". Trinity College Dublin. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  29. ^ "Confiscation and Recovery of Criminal Assets". Irish Centre for European Law. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  30. ^ Public Appointments Service: Annual Report 2012. Public Appointments Service. Retrieved 2014-04-10. 
  31. ^ Section 2 of the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996 (Establishment Day) Order, 1996 (S.I. No. 310/1996). Statutory Instrument of the Government of Ireland.
  32. ^ Hunt, Patrick. "Criminal Assets Bureau and Taxation Matters". Taxation Conference of the Bar Of Ireland. The Bar Council of Ireland. 
  33. ^ "Amanda meets ... former politician Nora Owen". Sunday World. Retrieved 2013-03-21. 
  34. ^ Simser, Jeffrey (2008). Perspectives on Civil Forfeiture. University of Hong Kong. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  35. ^ Murphy v. Flood [1999] IEHC 9 (1 July 1999) (Ireland)
  36. ^ King, Colin (June 2010). The Confiscation of Criminal Assets: Tackling Organised Crime Through a 'Middleground' System of Justice (Ph.D.). University of Limerick. p. 21. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  37. ^ Campbell, Liz (2008). "The Culture of Control in Ireland: Theorising Recent Developments in Criminal Justice". Web Journal of Current Legal Issues 1: 12. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  38. ^ O'Mahoney, Paul (2002). Criminal Justice in Ireland. Institute of Public Administration. p. 173. ISBN 1902448715. 
  39. ^ RAND Europe – Final Report Prepared for the European Commission Directorate-General Home Affairs (DG HOME) (DRR-5380-EC) (29 May 2012). Study for an impact assessment on a proposal for a new legal framework on the confiscation and recovery of criminal assets (Report). European Commission Directorate-General Home Affairs (DG HOME.
  40. ^ King, Colin (June 2010). The Confiscation of Criminal Assets: Tackling Organised Crime Through a 'Middleground' System of Justice (Ph.D.). University of Limerick. p. 139. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  41. ^ Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005 Act of the Irish Parliament.
  42. ^ "No. 1 of 2005 – Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005". 
  43. ^ Cassidy, Francis H (2009). "Targeting the Proceeds of Crime: An Irish Perspective". In Greenberg, Theodore S.; Samuel, Linda M.; Grant, Wingate et al. Stolen Asset Recovery: A Good Practices Guide for Non-Conviction Based Asset Forfeiture. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank. pp. 153–16210. doi:10.1596/978-0-8213-7890-8. ISBN 978-0-8213-7890-8. 
  44. ^ CAB v. Kelly & anor [2012] IESC S64 at para. 32 (29 November 2012), Supreme Court (Ireland)
  45. ^ S. N. M. Young (1 January 2009). Civil Forfeiture of Criminal Property: Legal Measures for Targeting the Proceeds of Crime. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 354–. ISBN 978-1-84844-621-2. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  46. ^ "Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) Ad Hoc Legal Aid Scheme". Department of Justice and Equality. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  47. ^ "Criminal Assets Bureau Ad-hoc Legal Aid Scheme". Legal Aid Board. Retrieved 2014-04-10. 
  48. ^ International Legal Aid Group (2011). National Report - Ireland - ILAG Conference, Helsinki (Report). p. 7.
  49. ^ "Criminal Assets Bureau Annual Report 2005". Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform. 25 August 2006. 
  50. ^ Section 5 of the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996 Act of the Irish Parliament.
  51. ^ Kennedy, Anthony (2006). "Designing a civil forfeiture system: an issues list for policymakers and legislators". Journal of Financial Crime (Emerald Group Publishing Limited) 13 (2): 132–146. doi:10.1108/1359090610660863. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  52. ^ Kennedy, Anthony (2007). "Winning the information wars: Collecting, sharing and analysing information in asset recovery investigations". Journal of Financial Crime (Emerald Group Publishing Limited) 14 (4): 372–404. doi:10.1108/13590790710828136. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  53. ^ "'CARIN – Camden Assets Recovery Interagency Network (Criminal Assets Bureau)'". 
  54. ^ 'COUNCIL DECISION 2007/845/JHA of 6 December 2007 concerning cooperation between Asset Recovery Offices of the Member States in the field of tracing and identification of proceeds from, or other property related to, crime' (Report).
  55. ^ 'COM(2011) 176 final – Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council based on Article 8 of the Council Decision 2007/845/JHA of 6 December 2007 concerning cooperation between Asset Recovery Offices of the Member States in the field of tracing and identification of proceeds from, or other property related to, crime' (Report).
  56. ^ Council Decision 2007/845/JHA of 6 December 2007 concerning cooperation between asset recovery offices of the Member States in the field of tracing and identification of proceeds from, or other property related to, crime – notification (Report). 22 January 2009.
  57. ^ "Cross-border group to tackle fuel fraud". RTÉ. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  58. ^ House of Commons – Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. Fuel laundering and smuggling in Northern Ireland (Third Report of Session 2010 -12) (Report). p. 17.
  59. ^ "New cross-border group to tackle fuel fraudsters". Breaking News. 19 June 2008. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  60. ^ "Organised Crime Portfolio". Retrieved 27 April 2013. 

External links - Annual Reports[edit]

External links - Other[edit]