The proceeds from last weekend’s luxury CAB auction should go directly to communities ravaged by organised crime, according to a Fine Gael Senator.
Luxury goods seized from criminals by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) went under the hammer for the first time last Friday – raising around €500,000 for the Exchequer.
Among the over 100 items sold off in the auction was a range of luxury watches, jewellery, designer handbags and even a gold bar.
He said the plan would turn a situation that is “really negative and frustrating” for communities into a “very positive thing”.
“Even CAB would admit that a lot of these seizures and a lot of these investigations that are put on people who are involved in organised crime start with integration with the community,” he said.
“So it would be people in their own community would say, ‘Look, these people are buying a lot of expensive things, we're not sure where they’re getting the money from’ and it would be reported to the Gardaí and then on to CAB and an investigation would happen and then a raid of a house or a seizure would happen.”
He said many local communities “work very, very well with Gardaí” when it comes to identifying the proceeds of crime.
“If there's such good engagement with local communities and organisations, I think that money should go back into the Community and I think it just turns something that is a very negative thing for a community into something that's really, really, really positive,” he said.
Senator Ahearn said organised crime has a “huge devastating impact” on many communities.
“The reason why communities and people in those communities are supporting Gardaí is because they're worried for their own children and their own grandchildren,” he said.
“They want to change their own area and their own community and this is how they see they can play a role in that.”
The Senator said he will be asking Justice Minister Helen McEntee to see that the funds are ringfenced.
“Half a million can get lost in all of the billions that are coming through the Exchequer at the moment, but this is really significant money that was raised,” he said.
“This should be ringfenced straight into the community and it should be done then for all other auctions.”
Last year, CAB investigations returned more than €6.3 million to the Exchequer.