The High Court has reserved its decision on an application by the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) seeking to deem 111 cars and €20,000 seized from a Limerick car dealership as being the proceeds of crime.
Cab is seeking orders under section 3 of the 1996 Proceeds of Crime Act in respect of €820,000 generated from the sale of vehicles the bureau seized in March 2019 from Stephen Bawn Motors Ltd, trading as Bawn Motors, Old Ballysimon Road, Limerick.
Cab claims that the dealership was used by people involved in criminality to launder significant sums of money generated from the illegal drugs trade. It alleges it was involved in other criminal activity, including VAT fraud.
The proceeds of the sales have remained frozen pending the outcome of Cab’s application to the court.
Stephen Bawn Motors Ltd and Mike Nash, with an address in Newcastle, Co Limerick, who claims to have an interest in over 50 of the cars, have opposed the application and deny the claims.
Represented by Paul Comiskey O’Keeffe BL, the respondents reject all of Cab’s claims, including that Mr Nash was in charge of the business.
Counsel said there was a carpooling arrangement in place with Mr Nash and others associated with the business and there would be an injustice if orders were made against him.
The company had traded legitimately, he said, adding that there was no evidence to support Cab’s claims that it had been used to launder money.
No sane criminal would use the scheme to launder cash, as alleged by Cab, it was also submitted.
Counsel also argued that no criminal prosecution has taken place in relation to the allegations that the company was involved in any VAT fraud.
In her submissions to the court, Grainne O’Neill BL for Cab said that the court could be statisfed from the evidence put before it about the business to grant the orders sought on behalf of the bureau.
Many of the explanations given by the respondents in relation to Cab’s claims did not make sense and the only conclusion the court should make is that the company was run with funds that come from the proceeds of crime, Cab submitted.
Following the conclusion of submissions on Friday afternoon, the third day of the hearing, Mr Justice Alexander Owens said he was reserving his decision.
The case, the judge said, was complicated, and the court after fully considering all of the issues.