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Shovel digs deep as 'dapper don' Kinahan faces passport fraud charges in probe

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Christy Kinahan is led into court in Estepona, on the Costa del Sol, in May 2010

Christy Kinahan is led into court in Estepona, on the Costa del Sol, in May 2010

SOLARPIX.COM

Christy Kinahan is led into court in Estepona, on the Costa del Sol, in May 2010

Cartel Godfather Christy 'Dapper Don' Kinahan is facing two charges of passport fraud following a decade-long investigation into his criminal network.

The charges are part of an investigation by a Spanish court relating to Operation Shovel, the multinational operation that saw around 30 cartel associates arrested in Spain, Ireland and the UK in 2010.

The investigation has been continuing for the past 10 years, and it has now emerged that:

⬤ Christy Kinahan (63) will face passport fraud charges, but escapes charges of money laundering and being a member of a crime gang.

⬤ Spanish prosecutors have dropped their case against his sons, mob boss Daniel (43) and Christopher Jnr (40).

⬤ Four other associates are facing charges, including senior lieutenant Ross Browning, in relation to firearms offences.

Evidence

The judicial investigation uncovered "sufficient evidence" that Christy Kinahan "used a false passport to travel from Madrid's Barajas Airport to Rio de Janeiro on April 30, 2010, using a British passport in the name of Michael Leslie Swift".

Another travel document was an Irish passport in the name of Thomas Richard Hasset in which a photo of Kinahan had been inserted.

Despite the charges, 26 other people arrested as part of the major investigation have avoided further action.

These include Daniel Kinahan, named in the High Court here as the leader of the international arms and drugs smuggling group.

Daniel Kinahan was at the centre of a global controversy earlier this year after it emerged he had masterminded boxer Tyson Fury's lucrative two-fight deal with Anthony Joshua.

While the Spanish investigation initially focused on drugs and weapons trafficking charges, in 2014 it looked solely into other allegations, including money laundering and membership of a criminal gang.

It was confirmed yesterday that the money laundering and criminal association facets of the investigation had been mothballed, and only five of the original 31 detainees now face trial for lesser crimes, which in most cases carry short prison sentences.

Christy Kinahan and two other men, Robert Edward Phillips and James Gregory Naughton, have been charged with passport fraud.

Jasvinder Singh Kamoo, said to have played a key money laundering role, has been charged with using fake number plates on a Mercedes.

A fifth man, convicted armed robber and cartel lieutenant Ross Browning (36), has also been charged, with unlawful possession of a weapon.

The inner-city criminal is considered a senior associate of the gang, having spent much of his time in Spain at the time of the raids.

The gun that Browning has been charged over was a Glock 19 pistol found at his home in Benahavis, near Marbella, on May 27, 2010, with the serial number removed.

Bargaining

Christy Kinahan, now based in Dubai, has been warned he could face a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine if convicted, although the minimum prison sentence under Spanish law is six months.

The time he spent in prison on remand after his Operation Shovel arrest, thought to be around six months, will be taken into account in determining if he will have to return to jail after any conviction.

It is not yet clear if his lawyers will seek a plea bargaining deal, as state prosecutors have yet to submit the indictment the investigating judge has asked them to formulate.

"It's rare for Spanish courts to hand out jail sentences of more than a year for passport fraud where a plea bargain deal resulting in a fine and possibly a suspended prison sentence for offenders is not reached ahead of trial," a legal source said.

The decision to charge Christy Kinahan was made at the same time his two sons were told the case against them was being dropped.

Alexandra Garcia, a university-educated Spanish woman once described as Daniel Kinahan's girlfriend, who was investigated on suspicion of setting up the financial structure that formed part of the Kinahans' crime empire, has also been spared trial.

In recent years, cartel senior figures have fled to Dubai and other parts of the Middle East, while many foot-soldiers and so-called on-the-ground managers have been handed jail terms.

The long-running judicial probe sparked by the Operation Shovel arrests has been bogged down for years by delays in getting answers to formal requests about the assets attributed to the cartel.

Unprecedented

Irish authorities are known to have been asked for information after the investigating judge sought answers from Brazil, where police said the cartel owned property worth €500m.

Cyprus was also one of the countries where authorities were asked to provide information about the Kinahans' set-up.

Brazil is said to have taken five years to send its reply, and Cyprus sent its answers back in Greek, sparking an 18-month delay to get them translated, which Spanish media described as "unprecedented".

The written court ruling makes it clear there is no watertight case against those investigated over money laundering, but there are "reasonable grounds" to suspect they formed part of a gang specialising in making sure dirty money from drugs and weapons trafficking appeared legitimate.