High Court rules monies seized from firms linked to associates of 'Slab' Murphy are proceeds of crime

Monies seized by CAB from firms linked to associates of Republican Thomas 'Slab' Murphy following an investigation into "an elaborate fuel-laundering scheme" are the proceeds of crime, the High Court has ruled.

The Criminal Assets Bureau sought the orders after it commenced an investigation into fuel laundering in 2012 which the Judge said: "centred on the Murphy family of Hackballscross, Dundalk, Co Louth and their various associates".

The following year CAB obtained seizure orders in respect of monies held in many bank accounts belonging to a dozen companies and individuals the bureau say were involved in fuel laundering.

Orders had previously been made against some of those entitles while other parties involved in the investigation previously made settlements with CAB totalling €775,000,

Today, Ms Justice Carmel Stewart held that property seized from a number of other corporate entities, most of which have now been dissolved by CAB, are the proceeds of crime.

The property recovered included monies held in the frozen bank accounts totalling some €266,000.

The Judge said she was satisfied to make orders in respect of the property under Sections 3 and 7 of the 1996 Proceeds of Crime Act and the monies are now being held for use by the State.

The property in question belonged to firms including, Athboy BioFuels Ltd, TCF Fuels Benali Marketing, Save Fuels Ltd, Hibernia Fuels Ltd, Vienna Fuels and Shin Ram Ltd.

The CAB investigation was linked to their, and other firms' transactions with a firm called Base Garage Supplies Ltd.

The Judge said she was satisfied the firms were, along with several others, part of an "overall elaborate fuel laundering scheme" which generated monies that were the proceeds of crime or criminal activity.

Some of these firms she said made large lodgements to Base Garage Supplies, which is a now dissolved company whose directors were Aidan and Patrick Murphy of Hackballscross, without receiving a supply of fuel at all. Some of the transfers made no commercial sense, the Judge added.

There were a number of common threads linking the companies to the fuel laundering. The IP addresses used to conduct the banking affairs of supposedly independent firms were registered to addresses owned by the Murphy family.

A substantial amount of business documents and records were recovered from the remains of two fires still burning when CAB conducted searches of the Murphy premises in 2013.

The Judge said the documents recovered showed "a notable overlap" of directorships of the various companies.

The scheme involved large quantities of Marked Mineral Oil or green diesel, washed and altered into white diesel, where it can be passed off as unmarked fuel, which is more expensive.

The process involves the removal of a marker or dye added to green diesel to distinguish it from other fuels.

The cost differential between these types of fuel has been exploited by organised criminal elements engaged in diesel laundering for many years and the profits generated from this activity are substantial, the Judge said.

The variety of methods used to launder this fuel are hazardous and result in the production of a toxic sludge.

The Judge said fuel laundering was a covert operation behind the curtain of legitimate trade, where number bank accounts are opened in the names of different oil-related businesses.

It involves the selling and invoicing of marked diesel by legitimate oil dealers to purchasing companies. The purchasing firms then sell the marked diesel to a facilitating entity called a buffering company or missing trader.

These entities, after the green diesel is physically altered, then receive large sums of money from the sale of white diesel to parties who sell the altered fuel to motorists.

The missing traders, the Judge said, lack documentation to prove they bought 'white' diesel.

When investigations by Revenue are carried out these entities disappear only to be replaced by similar one to takes its place in the chain of command.

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