Houses, vehicles linked to Kinahan gang are ‘proceeds of crime’
High Court judge says motor business, LS Active Car Sales, used as a ‘slush fund’
The High Court has ruled that hundreds of thousands of euro worth of property linked to the Kinahan crime gang came from the proceeds of crime. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.
Hundreds of thousands of euro worth of property linked to the Kinahan crime gang are the proceeds of crime, the High Court has ruled.
Two houses in south Dublin, luxury cars, high powered motorcycles, jewellry and cash are among the property concerned.
It is mostly owned by, or linked to, people associated with Liam Byrne, who the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) claims, is head of an organised crime gang originating from the Crumlin-Drimnagh area of Dublin.
Cab says the gang is central to the Kinahan-Hutch feud, which has resulted in a number of murders.
Mr Byrne is a “trusted lieutenant” of Daniel Kinahan, son of Kinahan crime gang boss Christy, who is now living in Dubai, the court heard. He is heavily involved in drug trafficking and violent crime, Cab claims.
The proceeds of crime application was brought by Cab against Mr Byrne, his partner Simoan McEnroe, his associate Seán McGovern and number of other people, who are either relatives of or linked to those central to the gang.
After applications for legal aid were refused, there was no opposition from any of the respondents to the Cab application.
Cab said the recorded income of the respondents fell far short of accounting for the property they had and their lifestyles. The gang had established a number of businesses which are used as a cover for laundering their money, it said. Most of them live within a short distance of each other around Kildare Road in Crumlin, Cab said.
Ms Justice Carmel Stewart on Tuesday said she had no hesitation in finding, on the balance of probabilities, all of the property was acquired directly or indirectly using the proceeds of crime.
In relation to a company called LS Active Car Sales in Bluebell, Dublin, the judge said the evidence established it was not operated as a normal car sales business.
Many of its vehicles were not actually for sale, were driven exclusively by people linked to the Byrne gang and whenever stopped by gardaí, drivers say the vehicles are on loan from another motor dealer.
An analysis of LS Active’s accounts undertaken by forensic accountants revealed some €39,000 was spent on flights at a time when the business imported only one vehicle. Around €13,000, made up of five separate transactions, was paid by the firm to exclusive hotels around Dublin.
The business was used as “a slush fund” for the Byrne gang, the judge said.
It enabled its members to access and exclusively use high-end vehicles in payment for, among other things, flights and five-star accommodation. She said a relative of a gang member worked in a travel company and assisted in booking flights and accommodation.
The travel arrangements were made by Ms McEnroe and, once arranged, a man identified only as “Lee” would arrive at the travel shop on a moped and pay in cash for the travel, she said.
In relation to a house owned by Mr Byrne in Grangeview Road, Clondalkin, the judge said it was bought by him from one of his associates in 2006 for a declared price of €270,000. It was bought partly with a €150,000 mortgage which Mr Byrne got by telling a bank he was a spray painter with a motor dealers earning €32,000 a year.
However, Revenue records showed he only earned around €10,000. There was also no explanation about where the other €120,000 used to pay for the house came from. The judge found the purchase of the Clondalkin house was acquired in suspicious circumstances by individuals with a broad background in criminal wrongdoing.
She also found the acquisition of a house in Kildare Road by Mr McGovern, along with the €247,000 renovation of the house, was funded by the proceeds of crime. Conveyancing records showed that €150,000 for the purchase of that property was routed through electronic fund transfer from an Investec Bank in Mauritius, care of a trust company.
There was no evidence of a loan agreement or repayment of the purported loan between Mr McGovern and the trust company, the judge said.
Among the other items seized by CAB, which the judge found came from the proceeds of crime, was a Rolex watch from Mr McGovern and a 1.53 carat platinum diamond ring and a 3.6 carat white gold diamond ring from Ms McEnroe.
Another €26,200 seized in cash from Mr Byrne and his associates was also the proceeds of crime, she ruled.