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Drug dealer loses €52m in Bitcoin after CAB seizure

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A drug dealer has forfeited Bitcoin cryptocurrency worth €52m to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) after the High Court ruled that it was the proceeds of crime.

The court accepted that Clifton Collins, from Crumlin, in Dublin's south inner city, was involved in the sale and supply of drugs.

Mr Justice Alex Owens ruled that the Bitcoin should be forfeited under the Proceeds of Crime legislation.

Collins (49) did not contest the CAB's application. The bureau's inquiries into his assets stemmed from a garda investigation, which began in February 2017 when officers stopped a 4x4 vehicle, driven by Collins, on the Sally Gap in the Wicklow Mountains and found a quantity of cannabis in the vehicle.

The find resulted in gardaí searching an address at Farnaught, Corr na Móna, where a large number of suspected cannabis plants were found growing.

Collins was subsequently charged with a number of offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act and appeared before Bray District Court.

He is believed to have invested in Bitcoin at an early stage and its value as a cryptocurrency increased dramatically over the years.

The CAB secured a freezing order on the Bitcoin to ensure it could not be removed from its wallet without the court's approval.

The seizure of the Bitcoin haul was largely responsible for the value of assets confiscated by the CAB in 2019 amounting to a record €62m. The Collins case was one of six applications brought by the CAB before Judge Owens yesterday.

The CAB took possession of €62,136 held in a Ladbrokes betting account by Stephen McAuley, of Hollystown, west Dublin, on the grounds that it was the proceeds of his involvement in the sale and supply of drugs.

McAuley did not contest the application and the CAB also secured another €21,940 in cash and a Tag Heuer watch, valued at €2,900. His consent removed the need for the CAB to wait for seven years before the seized assets can be transferred to State coffers.

Another target for a CAB application was James O'Neill, from Dublin's south inner city, who was alleged to have been involved with associates of a drugs gang closely aligned with the Kinahan crime cartel.

In his case, the CAB seized €21,000 held in a credit union account, a mobile home in Courtown, Co Wexford, valued at €20,000, and an Audemars Piguet watch, also valued at €20,000.

The bureau also hit Paul Coddington (50) after officers found €10,000 in cash following a search of his premises at Mornington, Co Meath, and seized it on the grounds that the money was the proceeds of crime.

Coddington was previously threatened with two weeks in custody by a judge for contempt of court during an eviction hearing but subsequently purged his contempt.

Coddington had been involved in advising distressed mortgage holders. His brother Roy Coddington was shot dead after he was lured to his death at Mornington beach by his killers in 2007.

Irish Independent