Sunday 18 February 2018

Over €100,000 found in airport luggage of Ghanaian car dealer

Sonya McLean

A GHANAIAN car dealer has had almost €110,000 forfeited to the State after a judge ruled it represented the proceeds of crime or was intended for use in criminal activity.

The cash was found in the luggage of a passenger, Rafhe John, after he was stopped by custom officials at Dublin Airport on October 17, 2008, as he was about to board a flight to Amsterdam.

Eric Owusu Afriyie had claimed in an affidavit before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that he had earned the cash through two large contracts with organisations in his native Ghana, contracts that had been secured in December 2005 and January 2006.

He claimed he going to buy cars in Europe with the cash to supply to these organisations but said he had been paid in Ghanaian currency and had to exchange it to Euro.

Mr Afriyie (50) whose address is care of a Dublin based solicitors, has previously served almost two years in a Swedish jail on money laundering charges.

He claimed he had asked his “trusted friend” Mr John (37) of 1508 Cv Zaandam, Netherlands, to bring the cash to Ireland, exchange it to Euro and bring it back to Amsterdam because his usual “currency trader” was not available.

An affidavit from customs officer Andrew Keyes, read to the court by State counsel John Byrne BL, said he stopped Mr John after routine profiling.

An examination of his luggage, which had previously been checked in, revealed the cash, totalling €106,700, in the pockets of various clothing packed in the case.

Mr John claimed he had just received the cash from a man behind the airport that day. He said it was the first time he had met the man and he had no contact details for him.

He said he had been instructed to buy a truck and another large vehicle in Amsterdam for €80,000 and €30,000 respectively. He could not supply any contact details for the company he was to purchase the items from.

Mr Keyes stated he was suspicious the cash was the proceeds of crime as Mr John had just arrived into Ireland from Amsterdam on a one-way ticket that day and was intending to return from Dublin on another one-way ticket. Both tickets had been paid for in cash.

He said the fact that he was travelling to Amsterdam, a known country for drug dealing and that he had no contact details for the source of the cash or specific details of its intended use, also raised concerns.

Judge Patricia Ryan said Mr Afriyie’s affidavit was “at odds” with the account given by Mr John at Dublin Airport.

She also said the court had not been provided with a sufficient explanation for Mr John’s behaviour or a reason as to why Mr Afriyie had not availed of a banking system, that had been in place at the time, which would have facilitated the transfer of the cash to him in the correct currency.

Judge Ryan said she was satisfied on “the balance of probabilities”, as the law surrounding the application directs, that the cash represented the proceeds of crime or would be used in criminal activity.

She ruled that the cash should be forfeited to the exchequer.

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