Criminal Assets Bureau
The Criminal Assets Bureau was established by the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996. The objective of the Bureau is the
- identification of the assets, wherever situated of persons, which derive or are suspected to derive, directly or indirectly, from criminal conduct,
- the taking of appropriate action under the law to deprive or deny those persons of the assets of the benefit of those assets, in whole or in part, and
- the pursuit of any investigation or preparatory work in relation to proceedings arising from the above objectives.
The Bureau, operating through its bureau officers, shall take all necessary actions in accordance with the Garda functions,
- for the purposes of confiscation, restraint of use, freezing, preservation or seizure of assets identified as deriving, or suspected to derive, from criminal conduct or under Revenue legislation
- to ensure that the proceeds of criminal conduct or suspected criminal conduct are subject to tax and that the Revenue legislation is fully applied
The Bureau may investigate and determine, claims under social welfare legislation in respect of benefits of persons engaged in criminal conduct. The Bureau may, at the request of the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, investigate and determine, any claim in respect of benefit, where the Department/Minister of Social Welfare certifies that there are reasonable grounds for believing in a particular investigation, that officers of the Department may be subject to threats or other forms of intimidation.
The Bureau may undertake such actions, including under any international agreement, in cooperation with other police forces and authorities with equivalent functions, as well as tax and social security authorities of other states. The Minister may confer additional powers on the Bureau.
Criminal conduct includes any conduct which constitutes an offence in the State or would be an offence if committed in the State.
Protection of Perosnnel
In addition to general provisions on confidentiality, bureau officers, officers of the Revenue Commissioners or Department of Social Welfare are protected from disclosure of identity. Notwithstanding any other legislation, internal procedures must ensure that the identity of such persons is not disclosed. Where such persons would be otherwise required to use or provide evidence of their authority or appointment, they are not obliged to identify themselves. They may be accompanied by a member of the Bureau, who is a member of An Garda Síochána who may identify himself as a member and state that he is accompanied by a bureau officer.
Bureau officers are to undertake their duties in the name of the Bureau and not by name. Documentation is not to reveal the identity of the above bureau members. In any proceedings, where a member of the Bureau, staff or officer is to give evidence, whether by affidavit, certificate or oral evidence, the judge in proceedings before a court or the person in charge of proceedings in other cases may on the application of the Chief Bureau Officer, if satisfied there are reasonable grounds in the public interest so to do, give directions to preserve the anonymity of bureau officers and members. This includes restrictions on the circulation of affidavits and certificates and deletion of names and the particulars of bureau officers or members.
Offences Re Personnel
A person who assaults or attempts to assault a bureau officer or a member of the Bureau or any family member is guilty of an offence. It is subject on summary conviction, to a fine up to €3000, or imprisonment of up to 12 months, or on conviction on indictment, imprisonment up to 10 years, and €127,000 or both.
A bureau officer who is a member of An Garda Síochána who has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person has committed an offence under any of the above provisions, obstruction, intimidation, assault may arrest that person without a warrant, or require his name and address. If he fails to do so or gives a name and misleading address, he may be arrested without a warrant. Failure to do so or giving of false and misleading address is an offence subject on summary conviction to a fine of up to €3000.
It is an offence to publish or cause to be published the fact that an individual is an officer of the Revenue Commissioners or Department of Social Welfare or a member of their staff or is a bureau officer, or former bureau officer, or staff member. It is an offence to publish or cause to be published any information that a person is a family member of any of the above categories of person. Family members are widely defined to include children, spouses, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, uncles, aunts, nephews and a range of other persons, similar relatives.
It is an offence to publish particulars of any of the above party’s addresses. A person guilty of such an offence is liable on summary conviction, to a fine up to €3000, or imprisonment up to 12 months or both, or on indictment, to fine and imprisonment up to three years.
It is an offence to delay, obstruct, impede, interfere with or resist a bureau officer in the exercise of his performance of his duties or powers under Garda functions, Revenue or the Social Welfare legislation. A person who is so guilty is subject on summary conviction, to a fine of up to €3000 and imprisonment up to 12 months, or on indictment, up to €12,700 or imprisonment up to three years, or both.
A person who utters threats to in any way intimidates or menaces a bureau officer or a member is guilty of an offence. It is subject to the same penalty on summary conviction or on indictment to a fine of up to €127,000, or to imprisonment of 10 years, or both.
Powers of Investigation
There are powers for members of the Bureau to obtain search warrants to search any place, where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that evidence of or relating to assets or proceeds derived from criminal conduct or their identity or whereabouts or may be evidence thereof may be obtained.
A bureau officer of the rank of Superintendent or above may issue a warrant for the search of a place where there are circumstances of urgency where they need to immediately issue the search warrant renders it impracticable to apply to a judge of a District Court. This warrant shall cease to have effect 24 hours after issue. The general period of validity of a warrant is a week, which may be extended up to 14 days.
There are powers for bureau officers who are members of an Garda Síochána to require persons present at the place to remain during the search. They may arrest persons without a warrant, who obstruct or attempt to obstruct anybody executing the warrant or fail to comply with a requirement.
A bureau officer who is a member of An Garda Síochána may operate any computer being searched, may require a person who appears to have lawful access to the information to require it be operated, including the giving of passwords and otherwise enabling the member to examine information accessible by the computer in a form that is visible and legible or producing information to the member in a form that can be removed and in which it is or can be made visible or legible.
A person who obstructs attempts to obstruct or otherwise fails to comply with a requirement or gives who gives a false or misleading name is guilty of an offence subject on summary conviction to a fine of up to €3000, or imprisonment up to three months.
Order for Discovery
The District Court may, on application, make an order requiring material to be made available in the course of an investigation, for the purpose of an investigation into whether a person has benefited from assets or proceeds deriving from criminal conduct. The order may require the person to make available particular material or a particular type of material.
The order may be made if the material is required for the purpose of investigation and appears to be in the possession of any person where it is suspected that a person has benefitted from assets or proceeds of assets or is in receipt or control of such asset. The order shall require that access be given to the material within a period specified, to be a week unless another period is appropriate.
The order may require the person who appears to be entitled to grant entry to allow members access to the material. Provisions equivalent to those above apply in relation to making computer material available. Material may be taken away by members of an Garda Síochána and retained as evidence.
It is an offence to fail to comply with requirements, subject on summary conviction to a fine of up to €3000 or imprisonment up to 12 months or both or on conviction on indictment, imprisonment of up to five years or a fine or both.
A person who, knowing or suspecting that an application is to be made or has been made for an order relating to making material available, makes any disclosure likely to prejudice the making available of the material, is guilty of an offence. Equivalent sanctions apply.
Order Regarding Trust Assets
Where a person has benefited from assets or proceeds deriving from criminal conduct or is in receipt or control of such assets or proceeds, the Chief Bureau Officer or an authorised officer may apply to the High Court for an order in relation to obtaining information regarding any trust in which the person may have an interest or with which he is or may be connected.
Where the judge on being satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for so suspecting and that the information is required for an investigation and there are reasonable grounds for believing that it is in the public interest that the information should be disclosed for the investigation, having regard to the benefit likely to accrue to the investigation and other relevant circumstances, may order the trustees and such other persons including the suspected person to disclose to the Chief Bureau or an authorised officer such information as he may require in relation to the trust. This includes disclosing the identity of the settlor and all trustees or beneficiaries.
An order is not to confer any right of production to information subject to legal privilege. It is to have effect subject, notwithstanding any other obligation as to secrecy or other restriction on the disclosure, imposed by statute or otherwise.
An order may be varied on application by a High Court judge. It is an offence for a trustee or other person, the subject of an order, without reasonable excuse, fails or refuse to comply with the order or to give false or misleading information.
CAB has extensive powers to apply for warrants in relation to tracing assets or proceeds deriving from criminal conduct. It may authorise a search of places and persons found at the place. In case of urgency, a member of CAB of the rank of chief superintendent or higher may issue a warrant where it is impracticable to obtain a court warrant in time.
In the usual way, the warrant authorises requisite searches and seizures to be made. Persons who obstruct or interfere with the search may be arrested without warrant as may those who fail to comply with requirements or give false or misleading information in relation to names and addresses.
Computers may be accessed and persons having access to them may be required to furnish information. It is an offence to obstruct those complying with the requirement made in the context of the search.
Orders to Produce
CAB may apply to the District Court for an order requiring a person to make available material of a particular description, where there a grounds for suspecting the person has benefited from the assets or proceeds or is in receipt of them and the material is required for the purpose of investigation. This may include information on a computer. The order may require a person to give access to a place where the material is held. Materials may be taken away and seized. It is an offence for a person to fail without reasonable cause to comply with a requirement under the warrant.
Orders may be sought against persons who hold assets in trust in in order to obtain information in the context of an investigation into the proceeds of crime. The trustees may be ordered to produce the requisite information including the identity of the beneficiaries, where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the assets derive from criminal conduct, the information is required for the purpose of investigation and there are reasonable grounds for believing that it is in the public interest that the information should be disclosed for the purpose of the investigation having regard to the benefit likely to accrue to the investigation and other relevant circumstances.
It is an offence for a trustee, without reasonable excuse, to fail to comply with an order. The offence may be tried summarily with a maximum fine of 12 months or €2,000 or both or an indictment, subject to a fine and or imprisonment up to five years.