Wednesday 17 January 2018

DPP to get files on smashed counterfeit cash racket

Tom Brady Security Editor

GARDAI who uncovered a massive counterfeit money plant in an underground print shop are to press for charges against a number of suspects.

Senior officers are now preparing a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions, who will determine if criminal charges should be brought.

Four men, who were arrested at the plant near Borris-in-Ossory, Co Laois, on Monday, have all been released from custody.

They had been held for questioning at Portlaoise and Tullamore garda stations until Tuesday evening.

A detailed examination of the bunker, which comprised two 40ft containers that had been fitted together and turned into a laboratory to manufacture the forgeries, has been carried out by members of the Garda technical bureau.

Detectives from the garda national fraud bureau seized three industrial printers, a large amount of security printing paper, inks and holograms as well as other materials used in the counterfeit printing process.

Senior officers believe the crime gang involved intended to flood Europe with counterfeit notes worth hundreds of millions of euro, using a network of contacts overseas.

A preliminary estimate indicated that the plant had the potential to produce around €200m-worth of counterfeit euro. But officers said that figure could have been bigger, if their initial efforts had been successful.

Armed officers from the Emergency Response Unit stormed the bunker before any notes had been printed.

Europol has described the plant as one of the most sophisticated money counterfeiting set-ups established in Europe so far. The containers, which were buried on a site in an area known as the Green Roads, had been serviced with electricity, heating and running water.

The garda raid followed months of investigation by the fraud bureau and involved the sharing of intelligence among a number of international law enforcement agencies across Europe as well as a detailed analysis of increased counterfeit activity.

Expertise

One of the four arrested is well known to gardai and has been living in Dundalk for several years and is originally from Belfast. The other three suspects are from Borris and the nearby Pike of Rushall areas.

So far, links to the UK, Germany and Japan have been identified in this investigation, he added.

Ireland has two garda officers and a Customs officer based full-time at Europol's headquarters at The Hague in the Netherlands. The agency acts as a base for the exchange of information between police forces and also provides expertise and technical support to law enforcement agencies inside and outside the EU.

Irish Independent

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