Cork financier Ted Cunningham confessed for the first time yesterday to laundering money from the Northern Bank robbery of 2004. He will be sentenced on February 27.
Cunningham went on trial on nine charges last week, denying all counts.
He was re-arraigned at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday where he admitted two money laundering counts.
Timothy (Ted) Cunningham, 65, of Woodbine Lodge, Farran, Co Cork, replied “guilty” to the charge that on January 15, 2005, at Tullamore, Co Offaly, he laundered £100,040 sterling by transferring it to John Douglas.
He also pleaded guilty to a charge that on February 7, 2005, at Ballincollig he laundered £175,360 by transferring it to John Sheehan, thereby obtaining three cheques to a total value of €200,000.
The charges state Cunningham committed both counts of money laundering while being reckless as to whether it represented the proceeds of the robbery of the Northern Bank in Belfast in 2004.
John Douglas testified in the trial that Ted Cunningham called on the day in question with two bags of sterling amounting to £100,000 saying it was from a property sale.
Mr Douglas said he or his late father put the cash in a wardrobe in a room over the shop.
John Sheehan, who owned Cúl na Gréine House in Ballincollig, Co Cork, where he and Cunningham had offices, gave evidence that the accused gave him £175,000 as security for a loan of €200,000 for a period of six to eight weeks.
“He told me he could give me sterling. I said, ‘why don’t you put the sterling in the bank?’ I didn’t really want to give him money. He said he needed sterling to pay for a conservatory he was buying in Northern Ireland. I said, if you give me sterling I will loan it (€200,000) to you.
“On February 7, Ted arrived in my office. He carried two plastic bags. As far as I remember, two Blarney Woollen Mills hold-all plastic bags. He said, I have the £175,000,” Mr Sheehan testified.
This was the second trial of Ted Cunningham on money laundering charges. He was convicted by a jury and sentenced previously but this conviction was successfully challenged on the basis of a fault in the search warrant. In the re- trial, which began last week, the accused was put on trial on a much smaller number of charges.
His senior counsel Hugh Hartnett argued in the absence of the jury this week that certain evidence should not be put to the jury because names had come from a diary found during the search of the defendant’s home, the search which was subsequently deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. In that regard Mr Hartnett submitted that names in the diary which extended the scope of the garda investigation represented, in legal terms, the fruits of a poisoned tree.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin refused the application and the trial continued until yesterday when Cunningham pleaded guilty to the two charges.
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