€1.2m cash found in car boot deemed proceeds of crime

€1.2m cash found in car boot deemed proceeds of crime
File photo of John Fitzgerald.

By Ann O'Loughlin

A High Court judge has deemed that €1.2m cash found in the boot of a car seized following a Garda Intelligence operation is the proceeds of crime.

The money was recovered by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) last August from a vehicle driven by haulier John Fitzgerald after he was stopped at a Garda Checkpoint at Ballyvergal, Carlow around 8pm on August 25, 2017.

Following the seizure, the cash was the subject of a High Court freezing order obtained by CAB and lodged in a bank account.

Today, Grainne O'Neill Bl for CAB told Ms Justice Carmel Stewart the money, which is linked to illegal cigarettes and drugs, was being taken out of the country by Mr Fitzgerald for an unknown person.

Counsel said Mr Fitzgerald, of Woodbrook Place, Green Lane, Carlow admitted to Gardai that he collected the cash and that he was to be paid a fee of €7,000 to take the monies outside of the jurisdiction.

Mr Fitzgerald said he was moving the cash because his own business was in difficulty. Mr Fitzgerald did not say who the owner of the money was, counsel added.

Some weeks prior to the seizure Mr Fitzgerald also admitted to moving other monies out of the country for a fee of €2,000.

Mr Fitzgerald, who the Judge was told has pleaded guilty to a criminal offence arising out of the seizure, did not contest CAB's application and was not present nor represented by a lawyer at court.

He had previously informed CAB that he would not be attending the High Court hearing in respect of the cash.

In her ruling, Ms Justice Stewart said she was satisfied, based on evidence put before the court by CAB officers that the cash was the proceeds of crime.

In all the circumstances the Judge said she was satisfied to make an order in respect of the cash under Section 3 of the 1996 Proceeds of Crime Act.

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