Money Laundering in Ireland Skyrockets as Criminals Move Online
The cases of money laundering in Ireland has more than doubled last year and now it has spiked sixfold within just two years. According to the police sources, the stats indicate that the crime in Ireland is changing and is shifting online. There is a culture shift in policing as more online resources are being used by cybercrime and white-collar.
The police detectives said that the department is now majorly focusing on investigating money laundering by drug traffickers and organised crime gangs.
According to the figures, up to 534 cases of money laundering were recorded in 2020 which is an increase from 234 cases that were recorded in the previous year. In 2018, only 83 such crimes were reported and a year before that, less than 50 cases were recorded. Last year, the number of suspicious transactions were reported to the police and Revenue Commissioners by the banks raised to 28,865. This is a thirteen percent increase from 2019 in total.
The money being laundered is mostly linked to drug dealings and other organised crimes including frauds and even funding of terrorists. Police also believe that the increase in financial crime is due to the high-risk strategies for money laundering. The new strategies adopted are due to the pandemic as the usual cash businesses that were used to launder money were closed. However, the police also reported an increase in cyber frauds based on phishing emails and texts to the victims. The purpose of such fraud is to take the victim’s bank details and use their accounts for money laundering or other crimes.
There is also an issue of money mules and a large number of minors and college students are being victimised as money mules by the criminals. The fraudsters are using their accounts to receive or pass their money taken through illicit means. The government is considering a new force to help the police combat these white-collar and other financial crimes.
Minister of Justice, Helen McEntee, has published a 22 point plan that is to be enforced over the next eighteen months. The plan is to enhance powers and resources within the organisations that are responsible to keep an eye on financial crime. The plan also supports the recommendations provided by the former director of public prosecutions, James Hamilton, who reviewed Ireland’s measures to combat financial crimes and gave his verdict that the state is unsafe and behind other countries in taking strong measures against financial crimes.