Vulnerable young woman in a coercive relationship avoids jail term

Lihlumelo Kanuka who pleaded guilty to money laundering told gardaí she tried to cancel her bank cards

Kanuka told gardai she was afraid of the man and that when she became more fully aware of what she was involved in she had attempted to cancel her bank cards.

Kanuka told gardai she was afraid of the man and that when she became more fully aware of what she was involved in she had attempted to cancel her bank cards.

 

A vulnerable young woman who was in a coercive relationship when her bank details were used in an invoice redirection fraud has avoided a jail term for money laundering.

Lihlumelo Kanuka (21) told gardaí she had tried to cancel her bank cards when she realised the full extent of what was going on, but was afraid of the person involved.

Kanuka, of Ashpark Grove, Lucan, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to money laundering in relation to her bank account on December 13, 2018. She has no previous convictions.

Judge Melanie Greally said it was a consequence of this type of offending that they leave young people with abundant potential with a very serious black mark beside them which will cause difficulties for them particularly in employment.

Judge Greally noted it was accepted Kanuka was in a short lived coercive relationship with the third party involved in this offence and had been pressured to continue with the enterprise even after discovering the true nature of what was involved.

She said Kanuka had been unable to extricate herself despite her best efforts and did not benefit.

The judge said there was quite a significant degree of recklessness involved in Kanuka’s actions, but she was taking into account the full context in which they were committed.

Judge Greally noted the positive letters and references before the court, her remorse and that she had been assessed to be at low risk of reoffending. She said Kanuka was a young woman with evident potential. She imposed a two year suspended sentence.

Detective Garda Damien Reilly told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that Kanuka, who was then 19 years old, had given her bank details to an individual and money was put into her AIB account, then transferred on to other accounts in her name before being transferred to a third party.

Targeted

The money, totalling €51,399, came from an “invoice redirection fraud” which had targeted a company in Hong Kong doing business with a company in Dublin.

Det Gda Reilly said despite gardaí being alerted the “money trail went dead” and none was recovered. Gardaí got the details of Kanuka’s account and she volunteered to speak to them.

Kanuka told gardaí she was afraid of the man and that when she became more fully aware of what she was involved in she had attempted to cancel her bank cards. She said when she communicated this to the man he began screaming at her and she became afraid.

Det Gda Reilly agreed with Kevin White BL, defending, that she had been in a short relationship with the man. The garda said it was accepted that Kanuka was vulnerable and that the relationship was coercive. He agreed there was no evidence there was any financial benefit to her.

Mr White said she was a young woman with a good work history who hopes to better her own situation, but this court case was going to leave her with a serious record.

He said she was very upset and distressed when confronted and her family was shocked, but supportive of her. He said she was co-operative throughout and submitted she had made a genuine attempt to disassociate herself from the offending when she realised what she was involved in.