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Thursday 25 May 2017

Gilligan was 'drug kingpin'

Family properties were proceeds of crime, says CAB chief

Fergus Black

CONVICTED dealer John Gilligan created a major drugs empire and became its "kingpin", the head of the Criminal Assets Bureau claimed yesterday.

Detective Chief Superintendent Patrick Byrne said the Gilligan family properties were the proceeds of criminal activity derived from drug trafficking, and gambling of the type Gilligan engaged in was a "classic badge" of money laundering.

The CAB boss told the High Court that core elements of the drugs business were that you needed cash, you needed to disguise the cash and if someone asked questions about it you needed a story as to how you got that cash.

He also revealed how Gilligan and his associates made trips to Holland for the purported purpose of putting IR£15m through a foreign exchange bureau at Amsterdam central station.

Gilligan claims he went to Holland to discuss projects such as golf courses and the building of houses.

But this was dismissed by Det Chief Supt Byrne, who said he believed Gilligan was meeting criminal associates there.

"I don't believe this is evidence of currency business. I know why he was going to Amsterdam. It was not to build houses. I'm quite certain he was engaged in active drug smuggling," the CAB chief said.

Gilligan (58), who is serving a 20-year jail sentence for drug offences, is trying to prevent CAB from taking properties -- the biggest of them Jessbrook in Co Meath -- that were first frozen by the bureau in 1996 as part of a process to sell them off.

Gilligan claims the properties were bought with funds accrued through legitimate business and through gambling and could not be classed as the proceeds of crime.

Following a 10-day hearing yesterday, the judge adjourned the action until October, when he will hear oral presentations of five written submissions yet to be filed on behalf of the Gilligan family and by CAB.

Empire

At yesterday's hearing, counsel for Gilligan quizzed the CAB's chief bureau officer about how gambling could be used to launder money.

Det Chief Supt Byrne said he had focused on the years 1994 to 1996, and based on his 28 years of experience as a former head of the Garda National Drugs Unit, he regarded gambling as a "classic badge" of money laundering. He also believed that after Gilligan's release from an earlier prison term in 1993, he had "created a major drug empire".

"I believe he was the kingpin of that empire and as the Special Criminal Court said, he was the supreme authority of a recognised crime gang".

Explaining why gambling was used to launder money, the CAB chief said such funds did not attract tax, and it allowed the use of cash which was then "layered" through the issuing of cheques by bookies, turning those monies into assets.

There was no compulsion on the person gambling with cash to explain the source of those funds.

The process allowed Gilligan to transfer cash into a purported legal payment, the court heard.

Irish Independent

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