341. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which money laundering continues to be detected by the Garda authorities on an ongoing basis; the action pending or in place to deal with these issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30428/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I can inform the Deputy that Garda personnel located in the various Garda Síochána divisions throughout the state investigate money laundering offences.
The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) is a national unit, which falls under the remit of Assistant Commissioner, Organised & Serious Crime and incorporates three Money Laundering Investigation Units and a Divisional Liaison Office. Garda personnel assigned to these investigation units conduct relevant investigations in addition to providing support and assistance to Garda personnel in all Garda divisions who are investigating suspected money laundering offences.
The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is embedded within the GNECB, and is a national reception point for Suspicious Transaction Reports (STR) submitted under Irish money laundering legislation by all the financial institutions and other designated bodies/persons, namely accountants, solicitors, dealers in high-value goods, auctioneers, etc. The FIU is supported by the Money Laundering Investigation Unit (MLIU).
The FIU is responsible for, inter alia, the receipt, analysis and dissemination for investigation of STRs to relevant Garda units. The Unit also analyses and disseminates STRs and intelligence gained to other national units within An Garda Síochána and Gardaí throughout the country for investigation and potential further action.
The MLIU supports the FIU within GNECB and it investigates complex money laundering cases and/or cases which have cross-jurisdictional links. It extracts information from the analysis of STRs allowing for the instigation of criminal investigations. Suspected terrorist financing can also be investigated by the MLIU. The Unit also provides advice and assistance to other members of An Garda Síochána who are investigating cases of suspected complex money laundering and/or suspected terrorist financing.
In addition, I wish to assure the Deputy that Ireland has a robust Anti-Money Laundering/ Countering the Financing of Terrorism framework. Ireland’s anti-money laundering framework was assessed by the global standard-setter, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Ireland was found to have “a generally sound legislative and institutional AML/CFT framework”.
Earlier this year, I welcomed the passage through the Dáil of two important pieces of criminal legislation to help combat money laundering and tackle white collar crime.
The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Act 2021 will strengthen existing anti-money laundering legislation and will give effect to provisions of the Fifth EU Money Laundering Directive. This Act ensures that our regulatory framework keeps pace with the increasing integration of financial flows in the internal market, the evolving trends, technological developments and the prevention of organised crime.
In line with international standards adopted by the FATF, and the EU's legislative framework, Ireland has developed a solid regulatory framework for preventing money laundering. This Act strengthens existing anti-money laundering legislation and contains a renewed focus on gatekeepers of financial systems. It ensures that there is increasing transparency by bringing further institutions within the scope of the Irish anti-money laundering regulatory framework and by combatting the use of new trends and technologies employed by criminals. It also ensures that our regulatory framework keeps pace with the increasing integration of financial flows in the internal market, the evolving trends, technological developments and the prevention of organised crime.
The Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) (Amendment) Act gives effect to EU Directive 2017/1371 on the fight against fraud to the European Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law. The Directive establishes minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions with regard to combatting fraud and other illegal activities (corruption and money laundering) affecting the EU’s financial interests.
Finally, I would point out to the Deputy that, as outlined in the Justice Plan 2021, the fight against organised crime stretches beyond our borders and An Garda Síochána work closely with their international colleagues to break the networks of serious criminals and prevent them from inflicting misery on our communities. An Garda Síochána regularly liaises and cooperates with their international policing and security partners, such as EUROPOL and INTERPOL, and the FIU’s work makes an important contribution to the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.