New laws will be introduced to prevent drug dealers and prolific burglars from using delaying tactics to frustrate the Criminal Assets Bureau’s (Cab) investigations into their ill-gotten gains.
good minister Simon Harris also wants to strengthen the agency’s powers to liaise with foreign police forces in their fight against international gangs, including the Kinahan Cartel.
Under the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill 2023, Mr. Harris is trying to prevent criminals from thwarting Cab’s attempts to seize their assets with vexing lawsuits.
There have been several cases in the past where the agency has gone through lengthy and costly legal proceedings after being ordered to seize assets.
The most high-profile case was that of a drug trafficker John Gilliganwhose taxpayer-funded battle against the agency lasted 20 years.
Under new proposals, courts will automatically appoint a trustee for seized property to prevent a criminal from using it pending a final removal order.
The waiting period for this is currently seven years.
The Minister of Justice aims to reduce this term to just two years.
There are also plans to give the Cab more powers around sharing information with other government agencies and law enforcement in foreign jurisdictions.
This will give it a big boost to target people like the leaders of the Kinahan crime gang, who have amassed more than €1 billion in assets on several continents.
The proposals will be presented today to 140 delegates representing Gardaí middle management across the country.
Mr Harris will address the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) to be held in Galway.
He is expected to tell delegates that his main objectives as Justice Minister are to equip Gardaí with modern tools and to ensure that stricter laws are passed to protect front-line responders.
This means introducing legislation to increase the maximum sentence for attacks on Gardaí and other front-line personnel to 12 years in prison.
The roll-out of body cameras to Gardaí has also been a priority for both the AGSI and the Garda Representative Association.
It is hoped that this equipment will be rolled out by the end of this year.