Friday, 8 June 2007

CAB sends out warning to crooks as over €85m seized

CAB sends out warning to crooks as over €85m seized

By Tom Brady

Friday June 08 2007

THE Criminal Assets Bureau has smashed previous records with its seizure of cash and property, suspected of being acquired through crime, in the past year.

The bureau seized assets with a total value of almost €66m last year and collected another €19m in taxes on income believed to have been derived from criminal activity.

The bureau's annual report, which is due to be published later this month, shows its officers also saved another €297,744 in social welfare payments by using legislation to prevent some of its suspects from drawing the dole.


A further €439,704 was identified as overpayments of assistance and, through repayments by instalments and deductions from current entitlements, a total figure of €139,524 was recovered.

But the big money spinner for the CAB, which marked 2006 apart from the rest of its brief career, arose from a decision by the High Court to grant an order freezing lands owned by Jackson Way Properties at Carrickmines in south Dublin.

The CAB claimed the value of the lands had jumped by €53m as a result of corrupt conduct, leading to "unjust enrichment" of Jackson Way Properties under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The court was told that 17 acres were rezoned from agricultural to industrial at a special meeting of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in December 1997 and CAB argued that the rezoning decision had been procured by corrupt payments to councillors.

The court heard from the then bureau chief, Felix McKenna, that the corrupt payments had ben made by lobbyist Frank Dunlop to further an agreement with a Dublin arcade owner, John Kennedy.

He said the beneficial owners of Jackson Way Properties were Mr Kennedy and a solicitor, John Caldwell.

The High Court granted an order under section 16B of the Proceeds of Crime Act allowing the CAB to freeze the property.

Another victim of the bureau crackdown was the girlfriend of the leader of one of the crime gangs involved in the deadly Drimnagh-Crumlin feud, which has claimed nine lives over the past six years.

The CAB seized a jeep, which had been purchased by the woman for €28,000, on the basis that officers suspected the money had been acquired through criminal activity.


Officers argued successfully in court that the bureau's legal officer should be appointed as a receiver, under Section 7 of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The woman's partner is currently in jail.

In total, the bureau secured orders for assets worth €65.8m last year, in contrast to the previous year's figure of €7.3m. The tax collection total of €19.2m compared to the 2005 figure of €16m. CAB also seized stg£294,230.

Set up in 1996 following journalist Veronica Guerin's murder, the CAB is now headed by Det Chief Supt John O'Mahony.

- Tom Brady

DNA identifies drugs gang pair buried in concrete

By Gerard Couzens and Tom Brady

Friday June 08 2007

SPANISH authorities have used DNA to formally identify two murdered Irish gangsters whose bodies were found there nearly a year ago.

Drug baron Shane Coates (31), and his right-hand man Stephen Sugg (27), were discovered buried under concrete on an industrial estate on the Costa Blanca last July.

Their bodies were officially identified with the aid of DNA swabs that had been brought to Spain by members of the Garda national drugs unit.

But 11 months on, their families are still unable to give them a proper burial in Ireland.

The Spanish authorities are unable to give a date for the release of the bodies because of legal technicalities.

This is because another Irishman is under police investigation in connection with their disappearance.

The sole suspect is a 36-year-old Dublin man. Originally from Finglas, he has been living in the holiday resort of Torrevieja for almost six years.

He had previously rented out the warehouse, where the bodies were found under a concrete floor, in the farming town of Catral near Torrevieja, and was arrested shortly after the find.

He remains on police bail and has to report to a local police station every 15 days.

He was locked up in maximum-security Foncalent Jail for several weeks before being freed on bail.

Coates and Sugg, members of the notorious Westies crime gang, left Ireland in 2004 after a reign of terror against other drug dealers.

The pair moved to Torrevieja in south east Spain to recreate their Irish empire but fell foul of rival drug gangs.

Police suspect they had swindled other dealers out of a shipment of cocaine and hashish.

The two west Dublin men were lured from their villa complex at Orihuela Costa, outside Torrevieja, on the evening of January 31, 2004, in the belief that they were going to discuss a drugs deal. Instead, Coates, from Hartstown, and Sugg, from Corduff, Blanchardstown, were taken to Catral, and shot dead at point-blank range.

- Gerard Couzens and Tom Brady