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Wednesday 12 December 2018

Houses, cars, jewellery and cash linked to cartel ruled proceeds of crime

Liam Byrne was the central figure in the proceeds of crime case
Liam Byrne was the central figure in the proceeds of crime case

A judge has ruled that hundreds of thousands of euros worth of property linked to the Kinahan crime cartel came from the proceeds of crime.

The property seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is mostly owned by, or has links to, associates of Liam Byrne, named as a "trusted lieutenant" of Daniel Kinahan.

It includes two houses in south Dublin, luxury cars, high-powered motorcycles, jewellery and cash.

Yesterday, Ms Justice Carmel Stewart said she had no hesitation in finding, on the balance of probabilities, that all of the property was acquired directly or indirectly using the proceeds of crime.

Feud

The CAB says Byrne is head of an organised crime gang originating from the Crumlin/Drimnagh area of Dublin and is heavily involved in drug trafficking and violent crime.

They claim that his gang is central to the Kinahan-Hutch feud which has resulted in 10 murders and that he works for Daniel Kinahan, son of Kinahan crime gang boss Christy.

The CAB proceeds of crime application was made against Byrne, his partner Simoan McEnroe, his close associate Sean McGovern and a number of other people.

After applications for free legal aid were refused, none of them opposed the CAB application in court.

CAB told the court that the recorded income of the respondents fell far short of accounting for the property they had and their lifestyles.

The gang, most of whom live within a short distance of each other around Kildare Road, Crumlin, had established a number of businesses which are used as a cover for laundering their money, it added.

In relation to a company called LS Active Car Sales, in Bluebell, Dublin, the judge said the evidence established it was not operated as a normal car sales business.

Many of its vehicles were not actually for sale and were driven exclusively by members of the Byrne gang.

When stopped by gardai, drivers always claimed that the vehicle was on loan from another motor dealer.

An analysis of the LS Active accounts by forensic accountants revealed some €39,000 was spent on flights at a time when LS imported only one vehicle. About €13,000, in five separate transactions, was paid by the firm to exclusive hotels around Dublin.

The business was used as "a slush fund" for the Byrne gang, the judge said. .

Travel

The judge said a relative of a gang member worked in a travel company and assisted in booking flights and accommodation.

The travel arrangements were made by McEnroe, and, a man identified only as "Lee" would arrive at the travel shop on a moped and pay in cash.

In relation to a house owned by Byrne in Grangeview Road, Clondalkin, Dublin, the judge said it was bought from one of his associates in 2006 for a declared price of €270,000.

It was bought partly with a €150,000 mortgage which Byrne got by telling a bank he was a spray painter with a motor dealers earning €32,000 a year.

Revenue records showed he only had recorded earnings of around €10,000 and there was also no explanation about where the other €120,000 paid for the house came from.

The judge said she was satisfied the house was acquired in suspicious circumstances by individuals with a broad background in criminal wrongdoing.

She was also satisfied the purchase of a house in Kildare Road by McGovern, along with the €247,000 renovation of the house, was funded by the proceeds of crime.

Conveyancing records showed that €150,000 for the purchase was routed through electronic fund transfer from an Investec Bank in Mauritius, care of a trust company.

There was no evidence of a loan agreement or repayment of the purported loan between McGovern and the trust company, the judge said.

Among other items seized by CAB, which the judge found came from the proceeds of crime, were a Rolex watch from McGovern and a 1.53 carat platinum diamond ring and a 3.6 carat white gold diamond ring from Simoan McEnroe. Another €26,200 seized in cash from Byrne and his associates was also the proceeds of crime, the judge ruled.

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