Garda chief hails 'landmark' day as US sanctions hit Kinahans

United Arab Emirates under pressure to support investigation after US offers reward

The authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will now feel under increasing pressure to support the international criminal investigation into the Kinahan cartel after the United States offered a reward of up to $15 million for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of three senior members.

Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll, who has led the Garda's fight against the Kinahans and their associates, said the cartel had generated about €1 billion by leaving "addiction and violence in its wake". He added they had done this in many working class communities, which were the stronghold of the sport of boxing, which Daniel Kinahan was seeking to control.

Seven of the cartel's key figures – six of whom are based in Dubai – and three companies linked to them have so far been placed on a US Department of the Treasury sanctions list. It means they are effectively locked out of the US banking system and cannot trade with people or companies in the US.

Any money they have in American financial institutions will be frozen and any further business activity they try to conduct in the US must be reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control. More companies or cartel members may soon be added to the sanctions list.


The United States authorities have also offered a reward of up to $5 million to any person who can supply information that would significantly disrupt the cartel or lead to any of the three Kinahans – Christy Kinahan snr and his sons Daniel and Christopher jnr – being convicted. The reward being offered is $5 million for each source whose information leads to an arrest or conviction, meaning three people could separately collect $5 million for each of the three leading targets.

Media event

At a media event in Dublin on Tuesday, senior police officers from Ireland, the US and Britain – and the US ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin – named the Kinahan cartel and its three leaders as major players in global organised crime, specifically drugs trafficking and gun crime.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the commencement of the American sanctions was a "landmark" day in the fight against the cartel's leadership, which may need to be put on trial in a foreign country as they did not live in Ireland.

Mr Harris explained the US authorities had decided to join Ireland and Britain's investigation into the cartel because of the sheer scale of the group's money laundering operation and its use of American banks and companies. He believed the US sanctions could be "crippling" for the cartel and would have a "major impact" on their ability to "launder and move money around the globe".

Speaking in Dublin, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government would consider putting up a similar reward to the sum offered by the US. He said the Government would do everything it could to tackle criminality in Ireland and encourage co-operation with other countries.

“Crime crosses borders. Therefore we will discuss that [the question of a reward] with my Government colleagues and certainly, we will keep an issue like that under review,” he said.

News of the US involvement, and the nature of it, was set out in a statement released by the US Department of the Treasury late on Tuesday night before a press event in City Hall, Dublin. Gardaí are now hopeful the UAE authorities, who have been unco-operative to date, may offer more assistance to the investigation into the Dubai-based cartel leadership because the Americans have now joined the investigation.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times