319. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will report on the Criminal Assets Bureau since its establishment; the quantity and value of assets seized; his plans to strengthen the legislation further; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27607/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Since the inception of the Criminal Assets Bureau in 1996 up to the end of 2018, in excess of €193.8 million has been returned to the State as a result of Bureau's actions. A breakdown of the returns is as follows:
- €32.357 million under the Proceeds of Crime Legislation;
- €157.078 million Tax and Interest;
- €4.391 million in Social Welfare overpayments.
I can assure the Deputy that the legislative framework underpinning the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau is kept under review to ensure its on-going effectiveness and robustness.
This is evidenced by the strengthening of the Proceeds of Crime legislative framework to further support the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau. In this regard, new powers were introduced under the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2016 which provide for Bureau Officers, subject to certain conditions, to immediately seize and detain property for a 24 hour period. Provision is also made for this period to be extended upon the authorisation of the Chief Bureau Officer, subject to certain conditions, for a further period not exceeding 21 days. The 2016 Act also lowered the thresholds applicable to seizures by reducing the value of property involved from €13,000 to €5,000. In addition, regulations were made to reduce the prescribed amount of cash suspected of being the proceeds of crime which can be seized, from €6,500 to €1,000.