Tuesday 16 October 2018

Workers' Party boss linked to counterfeit 'super dollars'

WILLIE KEALY

THE president of the Workers' Party, Sean Garland, has been placed in the centre of an international counterfeiting operation producing tens of millions of US $100 bills in league with former Russian KGB agents, according to evidence given in court.

Mr Garland has been under investigation for almost a decade by United States Secret Service agents tracking the source of a counterfeiting operation, believed to be based in former Soviet countries.

Former Official IRA members who ran a counterfeiting operation in Dublin in the early 1980s fled after they were exposed by gardai but continued their operations from eastern Europe with the aid of ex-KGB contacts.

US sources say the counterfeiters were assisted in transporting and laundering the near-perfect $100 bills by North Korean officials who used diplomatic bags to ferry the counterfeits around the world. The US Secret Service has traced the bills from the Philippines to Europe.

North Korea and China are the only two remaining Communist states that continue to have "fraternal" relations with the Workers' Party.

US and British sources say the counterfeiting operation may be the biggest in history. The currency notes produced by the counterfeiters have become known as "super dollars" because of their near-perfect quality.

Details of the international counterfeiting ring emerged during a three-month court case in Britain which ended last month. A former KGB agent, wanted in Armenia in connection with two contract killings, was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for his part in distributing counterfeit notes with a face value of $27m.

Worcestershire Crown Court heard that David Levin, 36, and two other men collected the counterfeit dollars from an Official IRA man who brought the currency from Ireland to Birmingham. Levin and two English criminals, Mark Adderley, 44, and Terence Silcock, 57, laundered the money through banks, bureau de change and travel agents.

The court heard that Silcock had direct dealings with Sean Garland, who was described in evidence as "top jolly" of the Official IRA.

Silcock personally admitted receiving $4.2m in fake dollars. They then sent "clean" currency back to Moscow keeping a commission, believed to be around 45 per cent.

The Court heard that detectives from the British National Crime Squad (NCS) worked closely with the US Secret Service during a three-year investigation after one of the $100 bills turned up in Birmingham in 1998. It was spotted by a bank teller who drew it to the attention of local police who called in the US authorities.

At first the bill fooled the US agents because it was of such high quality. Only under further forensic examination was it found to be fake. The British police investigation, known as Operation Mali, involved officers posing as criminals interested in buying the counterfeit notes.

When the British police contacted the US Secret Service whose responsibilities including providing the bodyguard for the US President and for tracking dollar counterfeiting they found the Americans had been tracking the same counterfeiting operation since the late 1980s.

The super dollars first emerged in the Philippines in the 1980s and since then have turned up around the world. In May 2000, German customs officers seized fake notes with a face value of $250,000 at the Czech border. All the notes came from the same source.

Sean Garland was at the centre of covert US surveillance operation in May 1997 when a spy plane picked up secret communications between him and a senior Chinese Communist official.

A declassified National Security Agency (NSA) report released last year said: "Garland is suspected of being involved with counterfeiting US currency, specifically, the Supernote, a high-quality counterfeit $100 bill."

The US Air force RC-135 reconnaissance plane picked up details of communications between Garland and the director of the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party. The discussions were described as "political in nature". Garland and the remnants of his Workers' Party developed links with China and North Korea after the collapse of their previous sponsor, the Soviet Union.

The Chinese official later visited Ireland as a guest of the Workers' Party.

Garland admitted last year that he was a director of a company, registered in Dublin, called GKG Comms International which described itself as being "involved in sourcing power projects in China and Eastern European countries". He said the company had stopped trading some years previously.

He was previously a director of a company called Repsol. As well as being a legitimate publishing company, mainly producing left-wing material for the Workers' Party, Repsol rented a warehouse at Hanover Quay in Dublin which was used to house the Official IRA's counterfeiting operation. Gardai raided the warehouse in November 1983 and seized $1.5m worth of high quality counterfeit $5 notes.

One of three printing presses found in Hanover Quay had previously been housed in the Workers' Party headquarters in Gardiner Place, gardai later found.

On Friday night, John Jefferies, press officer for the Workers' Party said: "From what I know of Sean Garland personally and from what I know about the Workers' Party, this is outlandish.

"Every Ard Comhairle meeting I have ever been at has been a tortuous process of trying to find out where we are going to get a few bob from. This idea of fanciful amounts of money is just outlandish. The amount of money that we spent in the last general election was just a drop in the ocean. It would be {ðE}5,000 per constituency maximum," he said.

Mr Jefferies added: "So you are talking peanuts when it comes to the money in the Workers' Party. The story from what you have outlined seems off the wall."

Mr Garland was unavailable for comment.

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