Gambling offers crime gangs an easy way to launder dirty money
Published 03/05/2016 | 02:30
Gambling remains a key component of organised crime rackets as criminals use it as a simple mechanism to launder dirty cash.
From John Gilligan to the Kinahans, gangsters in Ireland have long been linked with betting scams - which are played out without the knowledge of the bookmakers.
Over the past decade Daniel Kinahan, whose gang is responsible for five murders in the feud with the Hutch clan, has been involved in race and match fixing.
He and international criminal associates have been targeted in a number of major police investigations in the UK, Spain and Holland - but on each occasion he managed to slip the net.
Around €1m worth of property and €100,000 in cash were seized when gardaí raided properties linked to the Kinahans earlier this year - but tellingly, they also recovered a betting slip for a Liverpool game.
It was for €38,500 and it was 4/7 that Liverpool would beat Newcastle last December 6 - a bet which did not pay off.
But going back decades, one of the methods used by Irish gangsters was to bet cash on all the horses in a particular race.
If the Criminal Assets Bureau come calling, the winning docket can be used as evidence of how a person came to have large wads of cash.
The mobster who best exemplified this was John Gilligan who claimed he made his millions as a professional gambler.
The thug, who fled two years ago after being shot and recently returned to Dublin, carried sheaf of photocopies of bookies' cheques as "evidence".
However, his laundering scam was exposed by CAB when it was set up following the murder of Veronica Guerin.
While he laid bets every day, Gilligan also used an organised network of couriers to visit bookies throughout Dublin.
Usually he would bet on all the horses running in a particular race at up to IR£10,000 a time. And when he won, he insisted on being paid with a bookmaker's cheque.
When CAB raided Gilligan's home a month after Ms Guerin's murder, officers found a large framed montage of photocopied cheques from various bookies.
CAB officers forensically examined the individual records of Gilligan's dealings with 25 branches belonging to the five major betting chains in Ireland.
What they found was startling. Between March 1994 and June 1996 Gilligan wagered a total of IR£5,480,849 which included the 10pc betting tax.
His return was £4,860,713, showing an overall loss of £620,135, or 11.5pc of the total cost. On the surface he appeared unlucky.
But when calculated on the lowest standard rate of income taxation, Gilligan's laundering operation proved superb value for money.