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Wednesday 18 July 2018

UK cops struggling to track down €7.5m of 'ghost's' drugs money

James Mulvey
James Mulvey

British police are struggling to track down €7.5m of Kinahan drugs money linked to convict James Mulvey, the cousin of slain Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh.

The UK's National Crime Agency has been trying to locate the money following the cartel member's €77m cocaine and cannabis smuggling conviction.

Mulvey's Birmingham- based haulage firm was used to launder the huge profits made from his worldwide cocaine and cannabis business he operated with three partners.

One of the partners was Kavanagh, who was shot dead in Spain in September 2014.

Laundered

A financial confiscation investigation - in which criminal wealth is seized after a conviction - is being carried out.

"James Mulvey was a ghost within the financial arena in the UK," said Det Con Derek Tinsley, of the police Regional Asset Recovery Team.

"In other words, he had no links to bank accounts or databases within the UK, which made it particularly difficult.

"When you're looking at an individual who is at the top of the tree, you don't find them with their hands on the drugs. You don't find them with hands on the money, either.

"In reality, the money has been laundered through many jurisdictions.

"But the money trail won't stop here because confiscation processes under the Proceeds of Crime Act will continue to try and identify all of his assets so he doesn't benefit from his criminality."

In 2015 West Midlands Police passed the case to the National Crime Agency team in Birmingham, whose investigation included covert surveillance, complex mobile phone analysis and more than 20 million documents in nine countries.

Mulvey used accountants, advisers and trusts to launder money in offshore accounts and changed his mobile phones on a daily basis. One offshore transaction was £11.5m (€13m) to one business name.

Investigators have followed the trail through thousands of documents and identified companies in the Isle of Man that were used to launder funds.

Police in Mauritius joined forces with the UK financial intelligence unit to search addresses in the village of Tamarin. Documents and digital devices were seized.

Mulvey was jailed for 32 years at Birmingham Crown Court this week after being found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine and cannabis.

He was arrested half-naked on March 28, 2017, at his bolthole in Kaunas, Lithuania.

It followed a two-year investigation by the National Crime Agency, and he was extradited to the UK.

The father-of-five, who is estranged from his wife, organised numerous shipments to the continent and arranged for "cover loads" to be sent to Ireland, usually containing tinfoil or toilet paper "to give the impression of a genuine business relationship".

In all, 14 successful trips were made before the 15th consignment was stopped in Belgium.

Twenty blocks of cocaine, along with a cutting agent, and 364 blocks of cannabis were found.

The cocaine and cannabis were hidden in metal rollers and transported by a string of haulage companies and individuals from Holland to Ireland via Belgium and the West Midlands.

The rest of the gang were convicted, but Mulvey managed to slip through the net.

He spent up to €85,000 in cash every week and splashed his wealth across the world yet had no bank accounts within the UK.

The 42-year-old built a €2m Spanish villa with an infinity pool, had a number of top of the range cars, including Range Rovers and Mercedes, travelled the world, staying at five-star hotels, and wore Rolex watches.

He also invested in clubs and bars including a Japanese bar, Geisha, in Birmingham

Mulvey used drugs as well as trafficking them and had a £1,000 (€1,140) stash of cocaine each week which was for personal use.

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