Counterfeit machines were very capable, trial hears
The former head of an anti-counterfeit unit at Europol has told the Special Criminal Court that machines found by gardai in a hidden underground bunker were "very capable" of producing high quality counterfeit banknotes.
Daniel Vicente was giving evidence at the trial of four men who have all pleaded not guilty to possession of equipment, including printers and cutting machines, to manufacture counterfeit currency at Ballybrophy, Borris-in-Ossory, Co Laois, on May 31, 2010.
The four are: Anthony Sloan (57), a native of Belfast with an address at Ard na Mara, Dundalk, Co Louth; Liam Delaney (41), with addresses at Mountrath and Borris-in-Ossory, Co Laois; Kevin Flanagan (42), of Borris-in-Ossory; and Andrew Poole (43), of Portlaoise, Co Laois.
The court heard that gardai who raided a yard near Ballybrophy found the four accused men in a portakabin.
Inside the portakabin they discovered a trap door, hidden under a chest of drawers, which led to an underground bunker constructed from two 40ft containers.
Within this bunker, gardai found a number of printers, cutting machines and other materials used in printing.
Mr Vicente told prosecution counsel Tom O'Connell that from 2001 to April this year he was head of the Europol technical unit dealing with the counterfeiting of all currencies in Europe and the production of counterfeit euro banknotes across the world.
He said that he had visited illegal print shops across Europe and that in January of this year he and a colleague travelled to Ireland, where they were asked by gardai to examine the seven machines found in the bunker.
With regard to the two Canon iPF8100 printers found by gardai, Mr Vicente told the court that these were professional machines capable of producing high-quality images.
He said it was his opinion that the seven machines as a whole were "very capable" of producing high quality counterfeit currency at high speed.
Put to him by John Peart, counsel for Mr Delaney, that there was evidence the Canon printers could not print on both sides and it was "nigh on impossible" to accurately line up paper re-inserted into the machines, Mr Vicente said that 21pc of all counterfeits retrieved from circulation in the EU last year were produced by single-sided printers.
The trial continues.