A COMPANY director has been charged in connection with an alleged €9 million-per-year diesel laundering operation.
Paul Haughey (34) was allegedly "caught red-handed" in a yard in Co Monaghan, which gardai maintain had a capacity to launder 18m litres of fuel annually.
He was granted bail when he appeared in Dublin District Court charged in connection with the find in 2011.
Judge Michael Walsh deferred a decision on granting legal aid after hearing the accused's firm had a three-year contract with Dublin City Council installing water meters in the capital.
Mr Haughey, a father-of-three with an address at St Joseph's Place, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, is charged with removing or attempting to remove a prescribed marker from a mineral oil without the consent of the Revenue Commissioners.
The offence, under the Finance Act, is alleged to have happened on September 1, 2011 at Corragarry, Castleblayney Co Monaghan.
Garda Paul Kane of the Organised Crime Unit told the court he was objecting to bail, citing the seriousness of the allegations and the strength and nature of the proposed evidence.
Garda Kane said the yard in question had been under surveillance in August 2011 and the accused was seen entering it on several occasions.
He was allegedly seen standing on a tanker that was connected to hosing and filtering apparatus.
It was alleged that the tanker had 30,000 litres of diesel, with a potential loss to the exchequer of €15,000. In a search that day the yard had €110,000 litres of diesel representing a potential €55,000 loss to the State. Garda Kane alleged the yard had a capacity of producing 18m litres of fuel per annum with a total possible loss to the exchequer of €9 million.
The offence carried a maximum fine of €10,000 and sentence of five years in prison on conviction.
Applying for bail, the accused's barrister said when interviewed by gardai, the defendant had given a "reasonably innocent" explanation for why he was in the yard at the time.
Counsel said the defendant had a three-year contract with Dublin City Council to install water meters in the Dublin area.
Mr Haughey had been notified by the PSNI that the gardai had obtained a warrant for his arrest. He then met the gardai voluntarily "without any hiccups" and was not a flight risk, his barrister said. He was living with his wife and children in Co Armagh and working daily in Dublin.
Judge Walsh said the accused came before the court an innocent man until convicted and granted him bail.
He set bail in Mr Haughey's own bond of €7,500, with an independent surety of €15,000, with total cash lodgements of €12,500 to be made.
Conditions are that he lives at his home address, signs on at Dundalk Garda Station, surrenders his passport and has no contact with any witnesses in the case.
The court heard the DPP was directing trial on indictment and Judge Walsh remanded the accused in custody, with consent to bail to Cloverhill District Court on January 14.