Anti-Financial Crime & Financial Crime Compliance
Regulatory Intelligence Leadership | Insight | Network

AML, aml, EU, Financial Crime, Fraud, News

NEWS: Top detective tells EAFCS2024 how Ireland’s national police is tackling fincrime and leading the offensive against ‘Black Axe’ crime group

By Laura Lynott, Senior Correspondent

A leading organised and serious crime garda has highlighted that protests more than doubled in one year in Dublin – and most are anti-immigration.

Assistant Garda Commissioner for Organised and Serious Crime, Justin Kelly, has told the European Anti-Financial Crime Summit (EAFCS) at the RDS in Dublin that in 2022, 300 protests took place in Dublin.

However, by 2023 “we had 617, so we can see the huge rise in protests and most of those were anti immigration protests.”

Asst Commissioner Kelly added:  “The rise of the Far Right in Ireland is similar to other European countries.

“We are seeing arson attacks on accommodation for asylum seekers, threats to politicians.

“It’s all brought into sharp focus what we saw in Slovakia.”

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico was shot multiple times yesterday (Thursday).  Mr Fico was rushed to hospital and the attack was condemned by EU officials.

A male suspect has been charged with the attempted murder of the politician.

AC Kelly said:  “Here in Ireland we’ve had to considerably increase our protection around politicians.  That takes a lot of our resourcing.”

Speaking to an audience of legal and tech experts, the garda said Ireland rated third on the global peace index. 

He explained that the homicide rate in Ireland is in the bottom half of homicide per capita in the EU.

While Garda Kelly said there had been 10 murders this year, gangland murders were actually at a “10 year low.”

“We had one gangland murder recently but the majority are domestic related homicides unfortunately,” he added.

But in a positive for garda statistics, he added that “detection is usually around 85pc.”

And gardai are almost daily making multi kilo seizures of cannabis herb and cocaine, he added, as the war on drugs in Ireland continues.

However, among the challenges that Ireland is facing are a result of international “political instability,” he stated.

And these threats come from the Middle East, North Africa and Georgia, among other places, he explained.

Political instability in these and other states, led to “knock on effects in Ireland,” he said, “particularly with people trafficking and the fallout from Ukraine.”

“We are starting to see some of that now,” he said.  “We anticipate we will see this for years to come, particularly with weaponry, like with the Balkans years ago.”

However, he told how the dissident Republican threat in Ireland is now “significantly reduced.”

The counter terrorism unit, based in Dublin, monitors for threats and it was “never complacent,” he said, even when it comes to the “threat of radical Islam.”

“You can never be complacent, but we are very fortunate we haven’t seen some of the attacks in Europe, but we’ve seen support and returning foreign fighters and we have successfully prosecuted some here,” he added.

Economic crime is a threat to international security, the garda said, driving criminals to get involved in more serious criminality. 

In 2021, there were 17,873 reported incidents.  In 2023, there were 11,819 reported incidents.  However, so far this year, reports were up by 11pc already, he said.

And Irish citizens are more than playing their part – with half of reports coming from residential settings and not banks and financial institutions.

“We are trying to follow the money and to see how it’s laundered,” he said. 

Legislation had helped officers secure Organised Crime Gang (OCG) arrests, and Garda Kelly credited in particular, the Criminal Justice Act 2006, for aiding with securing such prosecutions.

“The focus was around gangs involved in drugs and homicides initially but there’s been success in economic crime and human trafficking, which is hugely important to us.”

Since 2019, there had been a 170pc increase in referrals from Financial Intelligence Units, he told the audience.

Much of the reports had been driven by virtual asset service providers and concerned money laundering.

While a major success for gardai recently had been the successful arrests of 300 people in Ireland, connected to the Black Axe gang – an OCG whose activities include human trafficking, money laundering and fraud.

Moving forward Garda Kelly said, having the “right expertise” in place was a necessity and the use of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) would be of a potential benefit to gardai going forward, he added.

Share this on:

Follow us on:

AML Intelligence
We hope you enjoyed reading this article

If you would like unlimited access to AML Intelligence premium articles, newsletter delivered twice a week, access to our Global Bank Fines and Penalties database, free access to Boardroom Series events and much more, select one of our subscription options and become a subscriber!