CAB targets the little guy 'before he turns gangland godfather'
The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is targeting criminals further down the food chain so they don't become "the godfathers of tomorrow".
Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Clavin, the chief bureau officer, said it was not just the senior criminal figures that the CAB, established in 1996 to target the proceeds of criminal conduct, investigates.
"We've been targeting lower and mid-tier with the object of preventing them from becoming the godfathers of tomorrow," he said, speaking yesterday at the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin.
"If we could hit them harder, earlier, we feel that some of them mightn't go to the life of crime that they would otherwise."
He pointed out it is not just high-value assets such as houses or cars that are the targets of investigations. For example, €5,010 was the lowest value asset seized by the bureau.
The cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which had a nominal value of around €50m, was the highest value asset. The senior officer gave an insight into what profilers look for when determining if someone could be a legitimate suspect for the CAB - including "man caves".
"Evidence of wealth, houses with bullet-proof windows and doors," he said.
"These are very often three-bedroom, modest houses in local authority areas where there's an inordinate amount of money pumped into them," he said.
"Excessive spending on renovations and what I call 'man caves' - the shed at the back of the garden which is converted into the man's room, so that the man can go and do his coke and drink his beer, free from all interference from the outside word."
Executive cars and SUVs that are regularly changed or registered to a third party or a false address are also considered indicators, as are exotic holidays to places like Dubai, South America and Australia.
In some cases, the suspects will have fictitious employment.
Chief Supt Clavin also said Operation Lamp and the 2016 murder of gangster David Byrne in the Regency Hotel was a wake-up call for the bureau.
"In my view, it's a turning point that caused us to start thinking again about organised crime. CAB went after the Byrne organised crime group and seized assets worth €2.7m and one of the features of that case, which we called Operation Lamp, was that cars were being used as currency," he said.
He also said the CAB had always opposed the establishment of smaller agencies to do the work around the country.
"We think the CAB that you have is quite a mini CAB as it is. It's 91 people, compared to 17,000 in An Garda Siochana," he said.
"We think that you will dilute what CAB does if you try to create local or regional CABs, but we are happy to discuss that."
Just under half the CAB's targets are in the Greater Dublin Area.
The west Dublin Metropolitan Region from Finglas to Rathcoole has 235 cases, twice the number of the next highest.
Chief Supt Clavin said that one of the roles of the bureau is to "tax the proceeds of crime" which some people find it hard to get their head around.