Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy swerved settlement with Cab

Former IRA man convicted for not filing tax returns may face multimillion euro demand

Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy: Refused to engage with Criminal Assets Bureau for a decade. Photograph: Collins

Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy: Refused to engage with Criminal Assets Bureau for a decade. Photograph: Collins


Thomas “Slab” Murphy has never made any settlement with the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab), after refusing to engage with the agency for more than a decade, it has emerged.

It has been widely reported, particularly since his conviction in the Special Criminal Court last week for failing to file tax returns, that he had previously settled with Cab. However, efforts by the bureau to contact Murphy, the former Provisional IRA chief of staff, were unsuccessful.

It meant inquiries into the 66-year-old were never able to establish him as a chargeable entity on whom Revenue or proceeds-of-crime demands could be served. But his conviction establishes him as such a chargeable entity, according to well-placed sources.

Maximum penalties

The first major move against Murphy came in 2006 when his home in Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, was raided along with other properties in the area.

A large sum of money and documentation was found during the operation, including €256,235 and £111,185 in cash and cheques and drafts totalling €673,460.

In the High Court actions that followed, the then detective chief superintendent at the head of Cab, Felix McKenna, said in court that brothers Thomas, Frank and Patrick Murphy had for 20 years been involved in the oil distribution industry and oil smuggling and money-laundering activities.

The money seized was forfeited to the State and some was paid by Cab to the authorities in the North to settle tax liabilities there.

However, unlike brothers Frank and Patrick, Thomas Murphy played no part in the legal process that saw the seized monies surrendered after it was declared to be the proceeds of crime.

Frank and Patrick Murphy also made further settlements with Revenue for unpaid taxes. Separately, Frank Murphy and his wife Judy reached a settlement with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) in the UK for €573,000. That settlement related to the equity in nine properties in the northwest of England.

The Cab, Revenue and Soca actions against the Murphys all focused on money generated by three fuel companies based in Ballybinaby. The companies smuggled and laundered fuel and evaded tax on the proceeds.

The first company, Cowan Oils Ltd, was registered in 1983. Its directors were Rosemary Murphy – who is married to Patrick Murphy – and Judy Murphy.

Tax assessments

Trillfield Ltd came to the attention of Revenue in the early 1990s when tax assessments were raised against it. The company was wound up a short time later. At about the same time, Ace Oils Ltd was established at the same address in Ballybinaby. Two listed directors were never traced.

A third director of the now defunct Ace Oils Ltd was Ronan Kirk (39), Drumkeith, Inniskeen, Co Monaghan. Kirk is a nephew of Thomas “Slab” Murphy and is Ann Kirk’s son.

Kirk was convicted in 2005 after being detected crossing the Border into Co Monaghan with an oil tanker containing laundered fuel. He was fined €1,900.