Garda to seek sanctions for ‘priority’ Kinahan associates on US travel ban list

Commissioner Drew Harris says some on 600-person list are ‘significant crime figures’

The Garda is reviewing a list of 600 people linked to the Kinahan cartel who have been banned from entering the US with a view to extending financial sanctions to them.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said some of the people on the list, drawn up by US law enforcement, were "significant crime figures". While they were now banned from entering the US, because of their associations with the cartel, they were not yet included in the US and United Arab Emirates' financial sanctions imposed on the Kinahans and their inner circle last month.

Mr Harris explained "priority" targets on the list of 600 people were now being examined and profiled by members of the Garda in a bid to gather enough incriminating evidence to justify their inclusion on the US and UAE sanctions list.

A lot of information about the Kinahans and their associates had been “flowing” into the Garda and the US law enforcement since the sanctions were announced last month and rewards of up to $5 million offered for information, by the US Department of the Treasury last month, Mr Harris said.

The list of 600 people banned from the US, news of which emerged earlier this week, was being enforced by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency and information had been provided to the Garda about the names on the list. Some of the people are senior gangland figures, including Irish people, while others have been involved in professional boxing with Daniel Kinahan.

"There are serious crime figures who are currently without US sanctions but who are on that [travel ban] list," Mr Harris said speaking to the media at the Garda College, Templemore, Co Tipperary, on Thursday.

Freezing accounts

Mr Harris noted not all of the Garda’s law enforcement partners were in the EU as they were “spread out on a far more international basis than that”. There were different rules in various parts of the world that could be applied to people to block them from travelling to particular countries. Other forms of sanctions – such as freezing bank accounts and other assets – may also be available.

“So we want to follow through and for all of those individuals, we have to assess them; assess what that means for us in terms of the actual crime investigation and then to follow through with the necessary authorities to either source financial information here or in some other jurisdiction,” he said.

By studying the priority criminals on the 600-strong US travel ban list the Garda could determine how criminal investigations into them could be progressed or how the US and UAE financial sanctions might be extended to include them.

“Behind all of this, there’s a huge amount of information [about the workings of the Kinahan cartel] flowing from banking internationally. There’s also a huge amount of information flowing in less salubrious areas of society as well,” Mr Harris added.

Last month, US law enforcement announced cartel founder Christy Kinahan snr and his sons, Daniel and Christopher jnr, and four of their associates had been placed on a sanctions list. The men cannot hold any assets or have business dealings in the US, and nobody based in the US can deal with them. Rewards of up to $5 million have also been offered by US authorities for information that would lead to the conviction of any of the three Kinahans or for significant information that could degrade the cartel.

The UAE followed with similar sanctions. That development was significant as the Kinahans and many of their associates live in Dubai and have businesses there. However, those businesses are regarded as fronts for the Kinahans to present themselves as legitimate businessmen rather than holding their core wealth.