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Crime gangs 'using cattle sales to launder cash'


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Security sources say money is being rinsed close to the border. Stock picture

Security sources say money is being rinsed close to the border. Stock picture

Security sources say money is being rinsed close to the border. Stock picture

Border crime gangs are using cash-strapped farmers to help launder their ill-gotten gains, it has been claimed.

Money laundering on the Border has reached epidemic levels and with Brexit on the horizon police, customs and tax authorities believe the money transfer business is set to explode further.

However, it has now been claimed that the farming industry has become embroiled in the illicit cash trade.

Crime gangs traditionally used bureau de change posts, hair salons and taxi businesses to launder money but with the introduction contactless payments this avenue has all but closed. However, it has now been claimed that livestock marts, where cattle and sheep can still change hands for cash, have become the new sanctuary for organised crime.

A senior bank official in a town close to the Border said a number of bank accounts held by some members of the farming community routinely hold upwards of a million pounds, often much more.

The accounts are filled and emptied on a regular basis, lodgements are made in cash with the explanation being the sale of livestock.

"It's simple," said our source, "I might have half a dozen cows worth £12,000, I sell to a friend who pays me £100,000 because that's what he thinks they're worth.

"He can pay what he wants for them, it's a fair price, a deal struck between friends. In reality, the money is passed back down the chain, minus my cut."

Security sources have said dirty money - proceeds of drug dealing, racketeering, extortion and the theft of farm machinery - is being rinsed along the Border to the tune of millions.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wilson of the PSNI said money laundering is often a critical enabler of organised criminality.

"We believe that the majority of this money is derived from a range of criminal activity carried out by organised crime gangs," he said.

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