Ireland: The Celtic Tiger Bites — The Attack on the Proceeds of Crime

Published date01 January 2001
Date01 January 2001
AuthorMichael Ashe,Paula Reid
Subject MatterAccounting & finance
Journal of Money Laundering Control Vol. 4 No. 3
The Celtic Tiger Bites
The Attack on the Proceeds of Crime
Michael Ashe and Paula Reid
In 1996 the Irish legislature (the Oireacthas) enacted
radical legislation as part of a new initiative to
deal with organised crime, and with it a specialist
agency, called the Criminal Assets Bureau, to enforce
the new provisions. In proposing the new measures
the Minister for Finance
'The Government is anxious that the legal obstacles
to the cooperation between existing agencies
should be immediately removed so that the
operational framework of the bureau [police,
revenue and social welfare] should be put in place
now. All three agencies are committed to the
success of the bureau and to a concerted effort to
deliver on the Government's anti-crime measures.
There has been no lack of commitment in the past
but the difficulties which have arisen from different
agencies tackling the problem within their own
functional remit and in accordance with existing
legislation have become apparent. The criminal
activities of major criminals are multi-faceted and
our response to these require new ways of directing
the resources of the State and new structures
through which the dedicated and determined
efforts of the Garda,2 Revenue and Department
of Social Welfare can be channelled most
effectively . . . The essence of the bureau is that
each of the three agencies will bring their own
powers and expertise to the bureau and . . . will
exercise these powers in a mutually supportive
and concerted manner.'
The hallmark of the Criminal Assets Bureau is that
it is a multidisciplinary agency drawing together
expertise and powers from the police, revenue and
social welfare departments.3 The statutory functions
of the Bureau are threefold. First, identification of
the assets, wherever situated, of persons which
derive, or are suspected to derive, directly or
indirectly from criminal activity. Secondly, the
taking of appropriate action under the law to deprive
or to deny those persons of the assets of the
benefit of such assets, in whole or in part, as may
be appropriate. Thirdly, the pursuit of any investi-
gation or the doing of any other preparatory work
in relation to any proceedings arising from these
two objectives.4
The centrepiece of the coordinated powers of the
Criminal Assets Bureau is contained in the Proceeds
of Crime Act 1996. This statute, as its short title
indicates, is concerned with the proceeds of crime.
However, its approach is not the conventional one
of dealing with such proceeds as part of the criminal
process, as is the case with orders that can be made in
relation to a defendant who has stood or is expected
to stand trial, but is wholly unrelated to any criminal
proceedings against a defendant at all. The legislation
therefore provides a method of dealing with the
proceeds of crime which uses the civil courts
and is wholly outside the criminal justice system.5
However, this is not private litigation, but the use
by the state of public law powers in the civil courts.
The legislation introduced in 1996 may be seen not
only as complementary to money-laundering legis-
lation but as going much further, being a direct
assault on the proceeds of crime.
Ireland implemented the EC Directive on Money
Laundering six years ago.6 In doing this it also
enacted the criminal offence of money laundering.
The legislation is similar, though not identical, to
that in Britain. Three separate money-laundering
offences are created by s. 31 of the Criminal Justice
Act 1994.7 The first is laundering the proceeds of
one's own crime, which may be called primary
money laundering and refers to the situation where
the perpetrator of the crime that generated the
criminal proceeds launders those proceeds.8 The
second is laundering the proceeds of another person's
crime, which may be described as secondary money
laundering,9 and third, handling the proceeds of
another's crime, which is also a form of secondary
The offences in each case relate to property which
Journal of Money Laundering Control
Henry Stewart Publications
ISSN 1368-5201
Page 253

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