Money laundering suspect at centre of corruption probe
A businessman who is suspected of laundering money for a number of criminal gangs across the country is at the centre of a probe into alleged garda corruption.
Gardai are investigating whether he has been using a successful and seemingly legitimate business to launder cash for gangs involved in the drugs trade.
He acts as an agent by "cleaning" drug money through an import-export business that has a number of outlets in Ireland.
As part of a long-running investigation into the suspected criminal, senior gardai became concerned about the businessman's ties to officers in the south of the country.
Intercepted mobile phone communications led senior officers to believe that the businessman may have received garda information.
An investigation was launched by the garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which is based in Dublin.
The suspected money launderer is linked to a number of criminal outfits, including a gang involved in drug trafficking and violent extortion offences in Ireland, as well as suspected international crimes.
"They are into everything that crew, from drugs to burglaries," a source said last night.
The source added that if senior gardai were found to have any involvement with the gang, it would be "simply shocking - just unbelievable" for other members of the force.
The probe into allegations of garda corruption will examine whether suspected co-operation between some officers and members of an organised crime gang prevented prosecutions.
Detectives will focus on whether the evidence indicates that there was improper interference in criminal investigations. This could have contributed to charges not being brought against suspects.
Three officers, including a superintendent and an inspector, were arrested for questioning in an unprecedented move for the force on Thursday.
After the release of the three officers, who also include a detective garda, the investigation will now enter a new phase.
Officers say the arrests have also sent a significant signal to others who may have information and have yet to come forward.
It shows the force is treating the allegations very seriously and is determined to establish the truth.
New lines of inquiry are being opened up following the arrests as the scope of the investigation is widened.
A garda superintendent, who was one of the three officers detained on Thursday, was released from custody yesterday morning.
He was suspended from duty following his release.
A file on his case will now be prepared by investigating officers for the office of the DPP, which will determine if criminal charges should be brought.
He was questioned throughout Thursday and into the early hours of yesterday about a suspected breach of the Garda Siochana Act by allegedly disclosing information, obtained during the course of his duties, to another, knowing that the disclosure was likely to have a harmful effect.
A detective garda, who was arrested for suspected conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, was also questioned into the early hours and released.
He had already been suspended from duty following his earlier arrest on a suspected separate offence.
Both men had opted to continue their questioning into yesterday morning rather than opting for a rest period of up to eight hours during the night.
A garda inspector, detained for suspected breaches of the Misuse of Drugs Act, was released without charge on Thursday night. He was also suspended with a file being prepared for the DPP.