Wednesday 15 August 2018

Kinahan gang dealt heavy blow as court rules luxury cars and properties came from proceeds of crime

Senior Kinahan cartel member Liam Byrne still enjoying high life while living in UK exile
Senior Kinahan cartel member Liam Byrne still enjoying high life while living in UK exile

Tim Healy

The High Court has ruled that hundreds of thousands of euros worth of property linked to the Kinahan crime gang came from the proceeds of crime.

The property includes two houses in south Dublin, luxury cars, high powered motorcycles, jewellery and cash.

It is mostly owned by, or linked to, people associated with Liam Byrne, who the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) says is head of an organised crime gang originating from the Crumlin/Drimnagh area of Dublin. 

The gang, CAB says, is central to the Kinahan-Hutch feud which has resulted in ten murders.

Byrne is a "trusted lieutenant" of Daniel Kinahan, son of Kinahan crime gang boss Christy, who is now living in Dubai, the court heard. 

Byrne is heavily involved in drug trafficking and  violent crime, CAB says.

CAB brought the proceeds of crime application against Byrne, his partner Simoan McEnroe, his close associate Sean McGovern and number of other people who are either relatives or close associates of those central to the gang.

After applications for free legal aid were refused, there was no opposition from any of the respondents to the CAB application.

CAB said the recorded income of the respondents fell far short of accounting for the property they had and their lifestyles. 

The gang had established a number of businesses which are used as a cover for laundering their money, it said.

Most of them live within a short distance of each other around Kildare Road, Crumlin, CAB said.

On Tuesday, Ms Justice Carmel Stewart said she had no hesitation in finding, on the balance of probabilities, that all of the property was acquired directly or indirectly using the proceeds of crime.

In relation to a company called LS Active Car Sales, in Bluebell, Dublin, the judge said the evidence established it was not operated as a normal car sales business.  Many of its vehicles were not actually for sale and were driven exclusively by members of the Byrne gang and whenever stopped by gardai, the drivers said the vehicle is on loan from another motor dealer.

An analysis of LS Active's accounts undertaken by forensic accountants revealed some €39,000 was spent on flights at a time when the business imported only one vehicle. 

Around €13,000, made up of five separate transactions, was paid by the firm to exclusive hotels around Dublin.

The business was used as "a slush fund" for the Byrne gang, the judge said.  It enabled its members to access and exclusively use high-end vehicles in payment for, among other things, flights and five-star accommodation.

She said a relative of a gang member worked in a travel company and assisted in booking flights and accommodation.  The travel arrangements were made by Simoan McEnroe and, once arranged, a man identified only as "Lee" would arrive at the travel shop on a moped and pay in cash for the travel, she said.

In relation to a house owned by Byrne in Grangeview Road, Clondalkin, Dublin, the judge said it was bought by Byrne from one of his associates in 2006 for a declared price of €270,000.

It was bought partly with a €150,000 mortgage which Byrne got by telling a bank he was a spray painter with a motor dealers earning €32,000 a year. 

However, Revenue records showed he only earned around €10,000.  

There was also no explanation about where the other €120,000 paid for the house came from.

The judge was satisfied the purchase of the Clondalkin house was acquired in suspicious circumstances by individuals with a broad background in criminal wrongdoing.

She was also satisfied that the acquisition of a house in Kildare Road by Sean McGovern, along with the €247,000 renovation of the house, was funded by the proceeds of crime.

Conveyancing records showed that €150,000 for the purchase of that property was routed through electronic fund transfer from an Investec Bank in Mauritius, care of a trust company.  There was no evidence of a loan agreement or repayment of the purported loan between McGovern and the trust company, the judge said.

Among the other items seized by CAB, which the judge found came from the proceeds of crime, was a Rolex watch from McGovern and a 1.53 carat platinum diamond ring and a 3.6 carat white gold diamond ring from Simoan McEnroe.  

Another €26,200 seized in cash from Byrne and his associates was also the proceeds of crime, she ruled.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News