Monday 18 December 2017

Firm at centre of cash-launder probe got €400k from taxpayer

The US Department of the Treasury this week designated Canada’s PacNet Group as a “significant transnational criminal organisation,” and applied the designation to 24 firms in the group – including some in Ireland. Photo: Ken Cedeno Bloomberg News/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The US Department of the Treasury this week designated Canada’s PacNet Group as a “significant transnational criminal organisation,” and applied the designation to 24 firms in the group – including some in Ireland. Photo: Ken Cedeno Bloomberg News/Bloomberg via Getty Images
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Irish taxpayers provided hundreds of thousands of euro to the Shannon-based unit of PacNet Group, the payment processing business at the centre of a major US government money laundering probe.

State-owned regional development agency, Shannon Development, provided almost €400,000 in grants to Shannon-based PacNet Connections Limited, which was also provided in 2006 with financing by now State-owned bank AIB, according to accounts filed with the Companies Office in Dublin.

The US Department of the Treasury this week designated Canada's PacNet Group as a "significant transnational criminal organisation," and applied the designation to 24 firms in the group - including some in Ireland. It also sanctioned 12 individuals acting as directors or executives of those companies, including individuals based here.

The PacNet group executives and director named by the US Department of the Treasury are: Paul Davis who is described as the president, partner, shareholder, or corporate director in several PacNet companies; Rosanne Day described as overseeing day-to-day operations for PacNet Services Limited, Gerard Alphonsus Humphreys, a director of several PacNet-linked companies as well as PacNet Air's chief pilot and director of aviation; Ruth Ferlow a director, manager, or company secretary of several PacNet-linked companies the Treasury said; Marie Boivin an executive based in Canada, Brian Weekes who is described as PacNet Europe's head of sales, Monica Elizabete Bottcher, named a managing partner for PacNet Brazil; Siobhan Ann Hanrahan who is described as the company secretary for several PacNet-linked companies in Ireland; Raffaella Ferrari a director and administrator for several PacNet-linked companies in Italy and the UK; Donna Maria MacBain, named as a director for PacNet-linked companies in the UK; Mary Ann Driscoll, managing director for PacNet-linked company Chexx Inc which is based in Canada and Ireland, and a director for a company called Indian River (UK); and Estelle Snyman, named as a director for PacNet Holdings Limited, based in Ireland.

"PacNet, an international payments processor and money services business, has a lengthy history of money laundering by knowingly processing payments on behalf of a wide range of mail fraud schemes that target victims in the United States and around the world," according to the Treasury Department.

It said the frauds included illegal lotteries and scam psychic letters.

Among the companies it has sanctioned is PacNet Connections in Shannon.

A lawyer for PacNet said during the summer that the firm used all its efforts to prevent fraud at all times. He said that unknown to PacNet, some clients may have misled the firm and misused its legitimate payment processing services to "support their own deceptive conduct directed at consumers".

Grants

Company records here show that Shannon Development provided grants of €209,000 to PacNet Connections in 2006, €28,000 in 2004, and €157,000 in 2001. There is no suggestion of wrong-doing on the part of Shannon Development or its successors.

Shannon Development was subsumed by the State-owned Shannon Group in 2014. The group also controls Shannon Airport.

Records also show that AIB secured a charge over PacNet Connections in 2006. The mortgage charge remains outstanding. PacNet notes in its accounts that it owns an investment property that is valued at €220,000.

AIB was not owned by the State at the time the financing was provided, and there's no suggestion of any wrong-doing in its provision of the finance to PacNet Connections.

The latest set of publicly available accounts for PacNet Connections show that it generated turnover of €2.5m in 2014, and a net profit of €263,000.

PacNet could not be reached for comment.

The accounts for PacNet Connections also show that it spent just over €6,000 on staff functions in 2014, and €10,000 on document storage and shredding.

Irish Independent

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