Saturday 20 July 2019

CAB chasing tarmac gang over €3.7m scam profits

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Tom Brady

Tom Brady

An organised crime gang - believed to have netted more than €3.7m by conning vulnerable victims with "home repairs" - is being pursued by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).

The gang operates nationwide and overseas by posing as tradesmen and quoting a "good price" for jobs ranging from laying tarmac to cleaning gutters.

After a three-year probe into its activities, the CAB is now taking action in the High Court to confiscate its assets.

It is by far the biggest CAB case in the courts this year and the value of the assets involved exceeds those belonging to Liam Byrne, who was the most senior gangland figure targeted by the bureau since the eruption of the Kinahan-Hutch feud that has claimed 18 lives.

The tarmac gang is said to have struck in almost every county here and has been active in Britain and mainland Europe.

Officers say the criminals have been carrying out the scams for several years and the extent of the profits they have gathered by pretending to be legitimate builders and home-improvement firms has soared.

The CAB believes a large amount of the gang's wealth has been laundered through the purchase of expensive vehicles and jewellery, while huge sums of cash have been frozen in accounts.

An investigation into the gang, codenamed Operation Tarmac, was launched in 2016 and the initial Garda files then handed over to the CAB.

One of the gang's main activities is the botched laying of tarmac, which succumbs to weeds within a few weeks, while other smaller jobs such as cleaning gutters are turned into more expensive work when the "tradesmen" discover a leak in the roof.

Some of the victims have been traced during the investigation to locations in Germany and France, as well as in Britain. The gang is said to be based around two families connected through marriage.

The preliminary dossier resulted in a series of searches in Co Kerry with the CAB backed up by the armed Regional Support Unit, the Kerry search team and local gardaí, involving around 130 personnel.

Officers seized a stolen caravan and nine vehicles, including two BMW X5s, three 5-series BMWs, a Mercedes, an Audi A4 and a VW Passat.

The value of the vehicles - all relatively new - has been put at close to €500,000, with some of models worth more than €90,000.

Officers also seized jewellery worth up to €100,000, including Rolex and Cartier watches. Some items were estimated to be valued at up to €30,000.

Also recovered was more than €100,000 in cash, as well as £18,000 (€20,200), while a further €200,000 has been frozen in accounts in banks and credit unions.

Irish Independent

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