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verdict due Irish driveway crew's alleged €4 million Swedish tax dodge case

Driveway brothers and wife accused of huge cash grab as they fail to explain millions in bank transfers

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Swedish authorities carried out huge probe into Irish group's finances

Swedish authorities carried out huge probe into Irish group's finances

Caroline Lindstrom is also accused.

Caroline Lindstrom is also accused.

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Swedish authorities carried out huge probe into Irish group's finances

Members of an Irish tarmacking and driveway crew are this week awaiting the verdict of a Swedish court following their trial over an alleged €4 million tax dodge.

The O'Connor brothers, from Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary, one of their wives and two Swedish associates have been accused of serious financial offences and money laundering.

Prosecutors in Stockholm said the accused people colluded in "criminal activities conducted systematically" by not declaring income.

John O'Connor and his brothers, Edward, Mark and Darren, were last week in custody after first being questioned by investigators in October.

A fifth brother, Thomas, is also named in documents as facing one charge of an accounting offence.

Darren's wife, Chantal O'Connor, was not in custody when she appeared at court last week accompanied by other family members.

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Chantal O’Connor on the way to Stockholm District Court.

Chantal O’Connor on the way to Stockholm District Court.

Chantal O’Connor on the way to Stockholm District Court.

Last month, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in Ireland was drafted in via Europol to assist the Swedish investigation, and Garda officers carried out a series of raids in Co. Tipperary.

Europol revealed that €100,000 in cash was seized during searches, while CAB said 16 bank accounts and funds of €540,000 had been frozen.

A car worth €75,000 was also seized and investigations are continuing.

Court documents show the extent of the massive investigation launched by Swedish authorities.

Dozens of customers who hired the contractors via email were contacted to give evidence about paying money to the firm controlled by the group.

Most of the people contacted told investigators that they were happy with the work carried out on their properties.

The authorities compiled a huge dossier on almost three years' worth of financial transactions by the accused people, linking cash transfers from customers to their personal bank accounts.

One of the Swedish co-accused is Caroline Lindstrom, who the brothers told investigators had set up the firm Stenspecialist.

However, she said in interviews that her role in the company was over-stated and it was really controlled by John, Mark and Darren.

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Caroline Lindstrom is also accused.

Caroline Lindstrom is also accused.

Caroline Lindstrom is also accused.

She had first met John O'Connor when he worked for her father and then she helped him dealing with translation, customers and administration.

Invoices

When the other brothers turned up in Sweden she dealt with them as well and Ms Lindstrom said she also helped their father, John O'Connor sr, to get Swedish social security numbers.

Landscaping, stone-work and drainage jobs that came through trade websites were passed on to the brothers and Ms Lindstrom would send out invoices when the work was completed.

Transcripts of interviews with investigators reveal the O'Connors said Ms Lindstrom looked after the accounts for the company and they all denied the criminal charges against them.

John O'Connor said he had set up the company Stenspecialist some years ago but as far as he was concerned it had been shut down in 2017.

He suggested that Ms Lindstrom had set up a separate company because things had become too "messy" and that she had exploited him and his brothers.

John O'Connor said he and his brothers didn't understand what was wrong, and that Ms Lindstrom had looked after taxes, invoices and sales.

Chantal and Darren O'Connor both told investigators that Chantal had inherited property from her grandfather, which she had sold off, and that they were using that cash.

Darren claimed he had no idea why his brother Edward had transferred cash to his wife's bank account. "I had no idea there was [Swedish kroner] 4.8 million in her account," he said.

He also couldn't explain why his other brother Mark had transferred the equivalent of €97,000 to her account on one occasion.

Asked if anyone else had access to her bank accounts, he said that Chantal "is very vulnerable".

From 2018 until 2020, investigators say €458,000 was transferred outside the country from Chantal's Swedish account.

At one point in one of the interviews Darren told his questioner: "No comment on all your questions. It's after 7pm and it's late to answer your questions."

He later told investigators that he made the foreign transfers from Chantal's account and that she had nothing to do with the business operations.

Darren O'Connor claimed Caroline Lindstrom had tricked him into putting Chantal on the board of the company, and that his wife "is a housewife and has nothing to do with the company".

Mark O'Connor told investigators that some of the transfers were related to the purchase of expensive machinery or vehicles.

Investigators said the equivalent of €1.2 million went through one of his Swedish bank accounts in 2019.

The youngest of the brothers, Edward, said he had income from a house he rents out in Ireland, from which he gets about €2,000 a month.

The financial trail compiled by investigators revealed receipts for Edward for €6,500 spent on a Rolex watch and €550 on a Gucci belt.

He said the Rolex was an investment and the belt was a present for his wife's birthday.

While he said he controlled his own Irish bank accounts, he said he did not use Swedish accounts under his name.

Edward said while he helped out with the work, he had not been employed by the companies in Sweden.

He was unable to explain a series of bank transfers from various account when put to him by investigators.

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