A BUSINESSMAN has denied laundering almost £600,000 of the proceeds of the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast in 2004.
The trial of financier Timothy 'Ted' Cunningham (65), of Woodbine Lodge, Farran, Co Cork, opened with the revelation that a man who received £200,000 from the defendant in payment of a debt in 2005 was so concerned about the origin of the cash he put £90,000 into two fertiliser bags and stored it in a stable.
The money was later handed over to gardai.
Mr Cunningham has pleaded not guilty before Cork Circuit Criminal Court to nine charges of laundering some of the proceeds of the 2004 robbery.
A total of €31.4m (£26m) was stolen from the Northern Bank's cash centre in Belfast on December 20, 2004.
Tom O'Connell, counsel for the State, said a highly organised gang carried out "the notorious robbery" which dominated headlines in Ireland and Britain for weeks.
The cash centre had £26.5m on the premises that day.
The total of the cash and cheques involved in the charges was almost £600,000.
Mr O'Connell said it was the State's case that Cunningham knew or suspected the sterling he was using in January and February 2005 came from the Belfast robbery.
Mr O'Connell said the State's case will hinge on circumstantial evidence.
Critical to the prosecution will be £200,000 in used Bank of England £20 notes taken on December 20.
Mr O'Connell said one man who received sterling from Mr Cunningham in January 2005 expressed his concern about it.
"He asked: 'Was it okay?' Mr Cunningham laughed and said: 'Yes, it is okay,'" Mr O'Connell said.
However, the man became so concerned following a subsequent conversation with Mr Cunningham that he took the remaining cash – around £90,000 – and put it in a stable in two fertiliser bags before later handing it over to gardai.
The trial continues.