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Thursday 22 February 2018

Man in currency scam case 'sought carbon deal cash'

JIM CUSACK

A BELFAST man "with contacts in Saudi Arabia", who is facing counterfeiting charges, asked a Co Laois quarry owner if he was interested in investing in a 'carbon credit' scheme, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Anthony Sloan, 57, a native of Belfast, with an address at Ard na Mara, Blackrock, Co Louth, was said to have raised the issue of investing in an unnamed carbon-credit investment scheme to Liam Campion, a quarry owner from Borris-in-Ossory, Co Laois.

The court heard from Mr Campion on Friday that he leased a yard in Borris-in-Ossary to two local men, Kevin Flanagan, 42, and Liam Delaney, 41. They are also before the court, charged with possession of equipment, including printers and cutting machines, to manufacture counterfeit currency at Ballybrophy, Borris-in-Ossory, on May 31, 2010.

Mr Campion told the court he was also well acquainted with Andrew Poole, 43, of Borris-in-Ossory, who is before the court on the same charge. All four men deny the charges.

The quarry owner said he had known Mr Poole, Mr Delaney and Mr Flanagan "all their lives" and that in September 2009 Mr Flanagan and Mr Delaney approached him and he agreed to lease the yard, which he had previously used as part of his cement business. Mr Campion said his primary interest was in quarrying.

The court had previously heard evidence from gardai that Mr Sloan, Mr Poole, Mr Flanagan and Mr Delaney were arrested by armed members of the Special Detective Unit in a portacabin in the yard that had been leased out by Mr Campion.

Underneath the cabin, gardai found two underground bunkers containing printing equipment and images of €500 and €50 notes, $100 bills, £20 sterling notes and travellers' cheques.

Mr Campion said in evidence that he had been introduced to Mr Sloan some time before leasing the yard.

He told the court: "I got to meet Mr Sloan possibly a year earlier. Prior to that, I had spoken to Kevin (Flanagan) to say I was interested in trying to sell some equipment, if there was (sic) any contacts across the water, because I didn't see any future here.

"He brought Tony Sloan and we had a discussion and he said he would do what he could do."

Mr Campion said Mr Sloan mentioned an investment in carbon credits.

"I was asked about carbon credits, did I know anything about them. Whether I did or not, I had no money to invest in them."

The witness said that after the "boom" he was interested in disposing of equipment for which he no longer had any use in the construction sector.

Asked what was his view of Mr Sloan, Mr Campion replied: "He came across as a businessman that had travelled all over the world and had contacts in Saudi Arabia and had major contacts.

"I thought he had the possibility of selling some of the plant for me."

Mr Campion also told the court that he had visited Nigeria on seven occasions as he had bought a quarry there and that on one occasion Mr Flanagan travelled with him.

He said: "Kevin had interests in relation to some work in the establishment of a car park in Nigeria. I was not involved in that project."

Mr Campion told the court that after he had leased the yard in Borris-in-Ossory to Mr Flanagan and Mr Delaney, he believed they were involved in using it in the manufacture and sale of glass and concrete. He said he knew Andrew Poole all his life and that Mr Poole was involved in quarrying and sandpits.

Mr Campion also gave evidence of the lease he signed with Mr Flanagan and Mr Delaney. He was shown a document which included his signature on his side of the lease and a company based in Tramore Road, Cork on the other side.

Earlier in the week, the court heard evidence from staff from Stena Line and Irish Ferries about vans which had travelled between Dublin port and Holyhead, Wales between January and March 2010.

Evidence was given of four return journeys of vehicles booked in the names of 'K Flanagan' and 'L Delaney' and paid for by cash or cash cards.

In the previous week's hearing, the court had heard evidence from staff at printing equipment suppliers in England and Wales that they had supplied printing, embossing and cutting equipment that was found in the underground bunker in Borris-in-Ossary and that they had sold this to Irishmen during the period January to March 2010.

Also, the former head of the Countefeit Section of the EU policing agency, Europol, Mr Daniel Vicente, who travelled to Ireland to examine the equipment, said the equipment would produce counterfeit euro notes "of much better quality than average and in high speed, large production".

He said the ink-jet printers found in the bunker were capable of producing counterfeits "of really good quality" and that the equipment was "absolutely professional equipment that provides better quality and faster production" than other counterfeiting operations he had examined during his 10 years in the Europol counterfeiting section.

The equipment, he said, was capable of imitating the watermarks and foil holograms on high-denomination euro notes. He disagreed with defence counsel suggestions that the equipment was not capable of producing quality counterfeits and said the quality of counterfeit currencies that could be produced would be "fantastic".

Mr Vicente gave evidence of finding images on the memory of one of the printers of €50 and €500 notes.

The court also heard that other images included £20 notes, US $100 bills and travellers' cheques.

The trial continues.

Sunday Independent

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