2. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her views on the strategy of An Garda Síochána, working in partnership with other State agencies, and the resources available to them; if she will tackle white-collar crime, in view of the recent revelations that 350 Irish persons held 892 of the controversial HSBC accounts in Geneva, worth a total of €3.1 billion. [7170/15]
Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: In so far as the specific circumstances referred to by the Deputy are concerned, I understand that these have been the subject of investigation by the Revenue Commissioners following receipt and assessment of information in regard to those accounts. While the Deputy will appreciate that I have no role in regard to the Revenue Commissioners, it may be helpful to inform the House that information was sought and obtained from the French authorities in regard to bank accounts, purported to be held with HSBC Bank Geneva, that had been linked to Irish nationals or to addresses in Ireland. To date, Revenue has initiated 33 investigations as a direct result of the data received. As a result of these investigations, 20 settlement payments were made. The total amount recovered to date is €4.5 million, while a further €174,000 has been received as payments on account in two ongoing investigations.
On the basis of the data provided and the subsequent investigations that were conducted Revenue also took action, in any cases where sufficient admissible evidence was available, to bring a criminal prosecution in regard to any identified tax offences. To date, three persons have been convicted of such offences.
In so far as my Department's remit is concerned, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, GBFI, is charged with investigating serious and complex fraud matters and has resources and expertise to carry out this function. I have said to Deputy Mac Lochlainn previously that the Garda Commissioner has informed me of the extra resources that she is putting into this area, and we have discussed that here previously. The GBFI works closely with the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the Central Bank, the Revenue Commissioners and the Competition Authority, and GBFI staff are seconded to both the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, ODCE, and the Competition Authority. It is a close working relationship.
The Criminal Justice Act 2011 provided for new procedures to facilitate Garda access to essential information and documentation that they may need to help in the investigation of such crimes. I am continuing to keep these provisions under review, in consultation with my colleagues.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
I am also in ongoing contact with the Garda Commissioner in regard to the arrangements in place to investigate serious crime of this nature. To this end, tackling white collar crime is identified as one of the policing priorities I have set for An Garda Síochána for 2015, and this is reflected in the recently published Garda Policing Plan. The plan also rightly addresses the improvement of crime management and investigation techniques, in the context of an overall programme of modernisation within An Garda Síochána. The Deputy will be aware from our previous discussions that the Commissioner already had underway a comprehensive review and strategic realignment of An Garda Síochána's capacity to deal with emerging and complex crimes, such as those coming under the GBFI's responsibility. This review is ongoing and the recommendations of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate in regard to crime investigation generally are also of relevance in this respect. I look forward to the outcome of this process and will, of course, continue to engage further with the Commissioner on how complex white collar crime can best be tackled.