Sunday 18 August 2019

Police search for €7.5m of 'missing' drug money linked to jailed Kinahan associate

Daniel Kinahan.
Daniel Kinahan.
Gerard "Hatchet" Kavanagh. Picture: Solarpix

James Ellis

Police in Britain are struggling to track down €7.5m in Kinahan drugs money linked to jailed associate James Mulvey, cousin of murdered Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh.

The UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) has been trying to locate the cash following the cartel member's €77m cocaine and cannabis smuggling conviction.

Mulvey's Birmingham-based haulage firm was used to launder the huge profits made from his worldwide cocaine and cannabis business which he operated with three partners.

One of his partners and cousin, Dubliner Gerard 'Hatchet' Kavanagh, was shot dead in Spain in September, 2014.

The financial confiscation investigation, where criminal wealth is seized after a conviction, is taking place.

Det Con Derek Tinsley, of the Regional Asset Recovery Team, said: "James Mulvey was a ghost within the financial arena in the UK.

"In other words, he had no links to bank accounts or databases within the UK, which made it particularly difficult.

"When you're looking at an individual who is at the top of the tree, you don't find them with their hands on the drugs, you don't find them with hands on the money either.

"In reality, the money's been laundered through many jurisdictions.

"But the money trail won't stop here because confiscation processes under the Proceeds of Crime Act will continue to try and identify all of his assets so he doesn't benefit from his criminality."

West Midlands Police passed the case to the NCA team in Birmingham in 2015. Their investigation included covert surveillance, complex mobile phone analysis and more than 20 million documents in nine countries.

Mulvey used accountants, advisers and trusts to launder money in off-shore accounts and changed his mobile phones on a daily basis. One offshore transaction was £11.5m (€13.1m) to one business name. Investigators have followed the trail through thousands of documents and identified companies in the Isle of Man that were used to launder funds.

Police in Mauritius joined forces with the UK financial intelligence unit to search addresses in the village of Tamarin. Documents and digital devices were seized.

Mulvey was jailed for 32 years at Birmingham Crown Court last week after being found guilty of two charges of conspiracy to import cocaine and two charges of conspiracy to import cannabis. He was arrested half-naked on March 28, 2017, in Kaunus, Lithuania, following a two-year investigation by the NCA, and extradited to the UK.

The father-of-five organised numerous shipments to the continent and also arranged for "cover loads" to be sent to Ireland, usually containing tin foil or toilet paper "to give the impression of a genuine business relationship".

In all, 14 successful trips were made before the 15th consignment was stopped in Belgium. Twenty blocks of cocaine along with a cutting agent and 364 blocks of cannabis were found.

The consignments of cocaine and cannabis were hidden in metal rollers and transported by a string of haulage companies and individuals from Holland to Ireland via Belgium and the West Midlands.

Though the rest of the gang were convicted, Mulvey managed to slip the net.

Mulvey spent up to €85,000 in cash every week and splashed his wealth across the world yet had no bank accounts within the UK.

Irish Independent

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