The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is to look at expanding its current brief to include targets involved in environmental crime. A senior officer with the CAB has indicated that environmental crime is seen as a growth area for the bureau to explore in the coming years.
Bureau legal officer Kevin McMeel said this was becoming an area of “greater concern” globally.
He said that, as part of its tradition of liaising with other external agencies, CAB could contact the Environmental Protection Agency, in relation to issues they were tackling, as well as local authorities.
Problems that could be tackled by the bureau include diesel laundering and related crime, and illegal dumping of rubbish.
“We pride ourselves on having the expertise that we need to deal with the cases that we have”, Mr McMeel said. “We have the tools already there but we are always willing to collaborate with any agency and once there is a crime there and there are assets, we are happy to get involved.”
Mr McMeel made his comments when he and bureau detective inspector Barry Butler made a 4-hour online appearance before the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into money laundering in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Money laundering has plagued the international economy with some studies estimating the flow of dirty money at 2-5pc of global GDP. The government of British Columbia estimated that about $46.7bn (€30bn) was laundered through the Canadian economy in 2018.
The Cullen Commission was set up as part of the response and invited the CAB officers to explain how it had been so successful since it was established in the wake of the murders of Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin and Det Gda Jerry McCabe in 1996.
The CAB model has been used by countries around the world as a template to establish their own asset recovery agencies.
The two officers told the commission that the cases with the highest financial values were not necessarily at the top of the list, as it was also important to tackle local criminals.
They said the decision in 2016 to lower the threshold of asset values for seizure from €13,000 to €5,000 allowed the CAB to focus also on lower-level criminals.
They said the participation by the CAB in meetings of joint policing committees countrywide led to local publicity and a big increase in citizen tip-offs.
Source – The Irish Independent