Judge orders €45,550 to be confiscated as the proceeds of crime

judge hammer.jpg
judge hammer.jpg

A judge has ordered that €45,550 can be confiscated as the proceeds of crime from two men who were previously acquitted of handling laundered money.

Audronis Bieliauskas (28) of Crosby Road, Forest Gate, London and Deividas Petrauskas, of Oak Manor, Drumgola Wood, Co Cavan had previously pleaded not guilty to possessing laundered money on October 15, 2010.

In July 2014 Judge Patricia Ryan directed a verdict of not guilty after saying that it would not have been possible for a jury to decide, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the men knew, believed or were reckless as to whether the cash they possessed was the proceeds of crime.

She noted the case was the first prosecution taken under the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act 2010.

Yesterday John Byrne BL moved an application from the Director of Publications to grant the forfeiture of the seized cash under section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1994.

Judge Martin Nolan said there were adequate grounds to suspect the money was for the purposes of criminal activity and granted the application.

He told the court that on October 10, 2010 a cash sniffer dog alerted a Customs and Revenue official at Dublin Airport to the presence of cash in Mr Bieliauskas's luggage. Mr Bieliauskas was about to board a flight to Amsterdam, which was described as a “centre of criminality” in court.

When questioned by gardaí, Mr Bieliauskas said the bag contained €5,000. He changed this to €20,000 before finally admitting the actual amount. During the subsequent search of his luggage €45,500 in cash was found in various bundles wrapped in clothing and was seized under suspicion that it was the proceeds of crime.

The court heard that Mr Bieliauskas later said Mr Petrauskas had loaned him the money so that he could buy used cars in Amsterdam from two men that he identified only by their Christian names.

Both accused told gardaí that they had been friends for over ten years and had worked together as car dealers in Lithuania.

Mr Petrauskas told investigators the money was his “life-savings” that he had put by, bit by bit, over six years working as a driver for Cavan Waste Disposal Ltd. Mr Petrauskas said the deal was he would be paid back and would also receive a car.

During the trial last year a forensic accountant from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation said she did not believe Mr Petrauskas could have saved €44,550 from his declared salary as he “spent more than he earned”.

Mr Petrauskas earned between €20,000 and €26,000 at Cavan Waste Disposal during the period 2004 to 2010.

The court heard details of numerous large payments lodged to Mr Petrauskas' bank account from overseas, which in 2006 amounted to almost triple his annual salary.

The court also heard of an email sent from Mr Petrauskas to Mr Bieliauskas containing instructions on what to tell the authorities.