The Criminal Assets Bureau says it deprived criminals of almost €11 million last year, according to its annual report released this morning.

CAB also returned €5.5 million to the Exchequer and another €5.5 million to six victims of cryptocurrency theft.

The role of the CAB is to identify, investigate and seize wealth acquired through crime.

Along with organised crime groups, it also targeted tax evaders, social welfare fraudsters and cryptocurrency thieves last year.

During 189 searches in 22 counties, it seized over €3 million worth of cash, property, cars, jewellery and designer goods.

Almost €100,000 was seized from the bank accounts of drug dealer John Gibson who was shot dead five years ago, while jewellery valued at €21,000 was seized from Sonya Walsh, a former partner of Peter Mitchell, after she admitted receiving it from the career criminal and one time member of the John Gilligan organised crime group.

Seven houses were confiscated, including three from a Chinese cannabis dealing gang in Tipperary and Cork, three in Clare from convicted criminal John McCormack and one from an organised crime gang in Kerry.

It brings to 61 the number of houses under the control of the bureau at the start of this year.

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€4 million in taxes recovered

CAB returned €5.5 million to the Exchequer and another €5.5 million in cryptocurrency to six victims of an international SIM swapping fraud whose money was stolen when their accounts were hacked.

One man, Conor Freeman from Dún Laoghaire in Dublin was convicted and jailed in Ireland.

The bureau recovered €4 million in tax from 84 individuals and corporate entities in 2021 and sent tax demands to 26 more for over €5.1 million.

Twenty-four drug dealers were assessed as owing €3 million in tax. Thirty-three drug dealers and two businesses associated with them handed over to CAB almost €250,000.

Another €3.9 million was saved and recovered when social welfare frauds were prevented and investigated.

Money laundering through the motor trade was also a focus for CAB in 2021.

It confiscated 84 cars seized from a car dealership in Co Tipperary and €153,000 from a company bank account in Kerry, all from a company called Autology run by the Khan family from Lithuania.

Agne Khan controlled the company bank account along with her brother-in-law Jawad Khan.

His wife Simona was the company secretary while Agne is married to Khuram Khan.

The High Court found there was cogent evidence that the Khans and their associates were involved in "complicated mandate frauds", the proceeds of which were used to fund businesses in Ireland and England.

The proceeds of crime are to be made available to communities and reinvested in the Community Safety Innovation Fund.

New legislation

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said she intends to introduce legislation to reduce the seven-year time frame before CAB can transfer seized money to the Exchequer in contested cases.

There are at present millions of euro in the CAB receivership account which cannot be used until the statutory period of seven years has expired.

Minister McEntee also said the Government wants to give the bureau the power to publish the names and specified details of tax defaulters who have made settlements with the bureau.