Friday, 17 October 2008

Thomas “Slab” Murphy, for many years the Provisional IRA’s chief-of-staff, has agreed to surrender a million-pound criminal assets portfolio

Thomas “Slab” Murphy, for many years the Provisional IRA’s chief-of-staff, has agreed to surrender a million-pound criminal assets portfolio to the authorities in Britain and Ireland. The settlement was the culmination of a global crime and fraud investigation into the proceeds of crime, according to Irish police. Murphy, and his brothers Frank and Patrick were investigated on both sides of the Irish border in relation to smuggling and money laundering. More than 625,000 euros (£487,000) in cash and cheques was confiscated in Ireland during a massive police raid on Murphy's farm complex that straddles the border. Nine properties in northwest England worth £445,000 were recovered separately by the authorities. An Irish police spokesman said that its Criminal Assets Bureau and the UK’s Serious and Organised Crime Agency had worked in partnership to achieve the outcome. The Irish leg of the investigation was settled in Dublin's High Court yesterday (FRI) while the UK's seizure was finalised in a Manchester court yesterday. A Dublin high court judge said he was satisfied that the money seized in the raid on Murphy's farm in Co Louth in March 2006 was from the proceeds of crime. The farm was also the address of Ace Oils Ltd and Murphy's brothers Frank and Patrick. The three men had been under investigation since March 2006 when "Slab" Murphy's sprawling farm in Hackballscross was raided. It was one of 15 residential and business properties searched. More than £140,000 in mixed currencies, 30,000 cigarettes and 8,000 litres of fuel were seized while 30 archive boxes of documents, three tankers and a truck with a fourth tanker concealed inside were impounded. An oil-laundering unit was also seized. Murphy was surprised by the raid, leaving a cooked breakfast uneaten on his kitchen table. He was not apprehended during the raid, with the suspicion that he hid in a tunnel beneath one of his buildings. More than a hundred members of the Garda Siochana, supported by soldiers, Customs officers and the Fraud Squad, joined the Police Service of Northern Ireland in the dawn raid. At the time Murphy was being investigated by the Assets Recovery Agency over house sales in Greater Manchester. The Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, had stood by him, declaring: "Tom Murphy is not a criminal. He is a good republican." In a separate investigation Murphy, 58, faces nine charges of tax evasion for failing to furnish a return of his income, profits or gains over eight years from 1996. He is expected to try to block the trial in the High Court in Dublin next month. His brothers Patrick and Frank have reached tax settlements with the Criminal Assets Bureau for a figure understood to be over one million euros.


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