Cab gets final order at High Court for cash seized 11 years ago
€54,000 in cash was seized from man linked to cigarette smuggling and drugs trade
Ms Justice Carmel Stewart said she was satisfied to make orders allowing Cab transfer the cash, which had been held in an interest-bearing account, to the Minister for Public Expenditure.
The Criminal Assets Bureau secured orders allowing it transfer money found by gardaí following the search of a car being driven by Martin Notarantonio of Ballytromery Avenue, Belfast, in November 2007.
As more than seven years had passed since the High Court in 2011 deemed the cash to be the proceeds of crime, CAB sought to have the money transferred to the State.
The application was not opposed by either Martin Notarantonio nor representatives of his late father Victor Notarantonio from Andersonstown, Belfast who was a notice party to the proceedings.
Ms Justice Carmel Stewart said she was satisfied to make orders, under Section 4 of the 1996 Proceeds of Crime Act, allowing Cab transfer the cash, which had been held in an interest-bearing account, to the Minister for Public Expenditure.
The money was seized on November 4th, 2007 after gardaí conducting a surveillance operation observed a transaction in the carpark of a hotel in Dundalk, Co Louth.
Cab said gardaí observed the driver of a Mercedes car exchange a package with the driver of an Audi car, who then gave the package to Martin Notarantonio, who was in a Seat Leon car.
The Garda then searched the Seat and the Mercedes, as the Audi had left the car park and drove over the border into Northern Ireland.
gardaí found a bag containing €50,000 cash in the Seat.
Cab said Martin Notarantonio had claimed at the time of the seizure that the money was to buy the Mercedes, and he had saved it from a car valeting business he had.
The driver of the Mercedes claimed he was selling a Mercedes to Mr Notarantonio, but not the one he was driving.
Cab said the driver also denied any transaction had occurred or that he knew Martin Notarantonio.
The court heard that Mr Victor Notarantonio, who died in 2017, had claimed ownership of the money shortly after it was seized.
It was claimed the money was an advance to Victor Notarantonio on a cheque from the Compensation Agency of Northern Ireland.
Cab argued the money was the proceeds of crime and said Martin Notarantonio and members of his family was actively involved in the importation and distribution of smuggled cigarettes and illicit drugs in Northern Ireland.
Cab claimed that neither of the Notarantonios had any legitimate source of income, had any record of paying income tax for five years before the cash was taken, or were in receipt of social welfare.
Their income was derived from illegal activity, Cab also claimed.
Cab further also argued that the proceeds of these activities were often laundered through Bureau de Change offices on the border.
The High Court granted Cab an order freezing the cash in 2008, and deemed the monies to be the proceeds of crime in 2011.
Victor Notarantonio had contested Cab’s claim the money was the proceeds of crime before the High Court in 2011.
Martin Notarantoni, who originally claimed ownership, but did not make a claim to the property before the High Court after his application for legal aid was refused.
Neither of the orders granted in 2008 nor 2011 was appealed by the Notarantonios.
As a result, Cab said that there was no serious risk of injustice if the monies are transferred to the State.