Gardaí and Interpol investigating fraud crimes worth €64 million

Gardaí And Interpol Investigating Fraud Crimes Worth €64 Million
There could be more than 4,000 money mules operating for the gang known as 'Black Axe', from Irish addresses. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
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Kenneth Fox

Gardaí and Interpol are carrying out a joint investigation into an email and money laundering scheme.

They say approximately €64 million has been laundered in Ireland since the start of Operation SKEIN.


They also say there could be more than 4,000 money mules operating for the gang known as 'Black Axe', from Irish addresses.

They have carried out 264 arrests to date, leading to 135 charges and court appearances to follow.

As the Irish Times reports, a senior Garda officer said members of the Black Axe organised crime gang, which originated in west Africa in the 1970s, were now operating in the Republic and running a large network of so-called mules and middle managers.

Det Supt Michael Cryan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau added Irish mules, people allowing their bank accounts to be used to move the gang’s money, did not seem to realise they were getting involved were serious gangland criminals.


“That money is used for trafficking in human beings, for people smuggling, it’s used for terrorism, it’s used to finance wars,” he warned people allowing their accounts to be used.

“You’re the vital cog in the wheel and it’s your phone number that’s being used, your bank account used to do the money transfer. It’s your face, more than likely, on CCTV at an ATM. And you also don’t know where or how your bank account is going to be used.”

Mr Cryan added mules could be traced through their bank accounts and would be convicted of offences under money laundering and financing terrorism legislation in the Republic.

"This would lead to serious implications for them, in terms of travel and employment possibilities, throughout their lives. They could also be extradited and face charges abroad for facilitating crimes there.2

Rory Corcoran, director of Interpol’s Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre, said information supplied by the Garda - found on mobile phones during searches in 2020 - had resulted in a major international investigation into the Black Axe gang.

That inquiry, he said, had now spread to 13 countries on four continents.

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