Tuesday, 17 May 2005
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Money Laundering Offences
Question 65: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the extent to which extortion, racketeering, threatening of witnesses and money laundering has been established; if adequate resources are available to the Garda to deal with the problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16171/05]
The offence of money laundering was created by the Criminal Justice Act 1994, as amended, and is now well established. A feature of the anti-money laundering regime in this jurisdiction is the obligation on designated bodies to report suspicious transactions to the Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners. Designated bodies include a wide range of financial institutions, solicitors, accountants, auctioneers, estate agents, tax advisers, auditors and dealers in high value goods. The anti-money laundering provisions in Irish law conform to EU directives in this area.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of suspicious transaction reports, STRs, received at the money laundering investigation unit of the Garda bureau of fraud investigation pursuant to section 57 of the Criminal Justice Act 1994 continues to increase. A total of 5,491 such reports were received in 2004. I am further informed that all STRs are investigated in full in order to ascertain if the subjects or funds have any links with criminal activity. Moreover, where appropriate, STR investigations are referred to the Criminal Assets Bureau.
The Garda Síochána has a dedicated unit within the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation which targets persons suspected of involvement in racketeering, particularly the production and sale of counterfeit products. I am informed by the Garda authorities that in 2004 counterfeit goods, mainly CDs and DVDs, to the value of €7 million were seized in ongoing searches throughout this jurisdiction.
The Garda Síochána is aware of the potential for threats to and intimidation of witnesses, particularly in prosecutions against serious criminal gangs. Such threats when reported are investigated fully and every possible protection is afforded to such witnesses. Relevant provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1999 have greatly enhanced the effectiveness of the Garda Síochána in dealing with this type of criminality.
The allocation of resources to counter serious crime is kept under continuous review by the Garda Commissioner. For example, reviews are ongoing in the context of the additional resources coming on stream in the context of the Government's decision to increase the overall strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000.