A BUSINESSMAN who is regarded as a kingpin in the cross-border fuel laundering and cigarette smuggling trade, will be served with a seven-figure tax demand early this year.
The bill is being drawn up by the Criminal Assets Bureau following a multi-agency investigation into the man's activities.
The major player in the black economy is alleged to be at the top of a criminal pyramid with links to republican groups. At one stage, he fell foul of some of his republican accomplices and was given a bad beating and told he would not survive if he "crossed" them again.
Last September he was one of four men detained following a joint swoop by the garda and Revenue's customs service, backed up by the bureau.
They were arrested by armed detectives after officers intercepted a truck taking a payment of nine million cigarettes from Dublin Port towards the Border.
Detectives stopped the truck on the M1 motorway, near Castlebellingham, Co Louth, and seized the cigarettes, which had a retail value of €4.3m.
CAB is now putting the final touches to the tax bill to be served on the man, who has been a key target of the gardai and customs for several years.
Suspected fuel launderers and cigarette smugglers have featured towards the top of the bureau's agenda during 2013.
CAB officers carried out a total of 25 searches in the border counties with the aim of confiscating assets amounting to around €1.75m from 21 targeted figures, under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Among the suspects are former senior members of the Provisional IRA hierarchy in south Armagh.
In a separate operation, the bureau also dealt a financial body blow to a Cork-based gang of cigarette smugglers with strong connections to Poland.
As a result of their activities, CAB has handed €10m to the Exchequer over the past year, comprised of about €5m seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act, €5.3m in taxes and close to €500,000 in social welfare overpayments. The total is well up on last year.
Although €5.3m has been paid to settle tax bills, the bureau made tax demands over the year for €12.9m, but a lot of the court applications have yet to be determined.
The bureau was set up in 1996 in the wake of the murders of 'Sunday Independent' journalist Veronica Guerin and Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, who was shot dead by the Provisional IRA in Adare, Co Limerick.