Gardai said matters came to light as part of a worldwide investigation into invoice redirection fraud.
Emanuele Cocco (29) of Heytesbury Street, Dublin received a ten-month sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for possessing a total of €17,923 as the proceeds of crime in an AIB account, a Bank of Ireland account, a Revolut account and a sum of cash.
Daniel O’Carroll (28) of Inchicore Road, Dublin 8 was handed a fully-suspended sentence of 16 months for possessing just over €26,000 as the proceeds of crime in various bank accounts, after Judge Martin Nolan said “you deserve your one chance.”
A third co-accused, who was not named in court, has criminal charges pending for the outstanding monies laundered, the court heard.
Judge Nolan noted that Cocco is already serving a two-year sentence on drugs offences imposed in June of this year, and said it would be unjust to extend this period of detention.
Addressing O’Carroll, the judge acknowledged that there was little or no likelihood of him reoffending, but said, “you must have known what you were doing; you allowed yourself to be used to launder money.”
Judge Nolan warned O’Carroll that if he reoffended, he would go to prison, adding, “the future is for you.”
Detective Garda Paulina Szramowska from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said matters came to light when, as part of a worldwide investigation into invoice redirection fraud, a suspect was found to be using an IP address from Ireland.
Gda Szramowska told Simon Matthews BL, prosecuting, that the monies in question were all fraudulent international payments from accounts in Germany, Belgium and Denmark.
Cocco pleaded guilty to one count of possessing the proceeds of crime at AIB, O’Connell Street on dates between June 21 and 24, 2019 and also to the same charge at Bank of Ireland, Stephen’s Green, between August 12 and Sep 5, 2019.
Cocco further admitted possessing a Revolut account as the proceeds of crime between August and September 2019, and to possessing €740 in cash as the proceeds of crime on July 7, 2020.
Cocco has nine previous convictions, the court heard, of which two were committed in Italy when he was a juvenile.
O’Carroll pleaded guilty to one count of possessing the proceeds of crime at Bank of Ireland, College Green on dates between November 4 and 12, 2019 and to a further count of possessing a Revolut account as the proceeds of crime between August and September of 2019.
O’Carroll has no previous convictions.
Seán Rafter BL, defending Cocco, said his client had no direct control over his Bank of Ireland account and that the phone number attached to that account was changed to O’Carroll’s number.
Mr Rafter said Cocco had a good work history in Ireland but said after he returned to Ireland from attending his grandmother’s funeral in Italy, he couldn’t find work because of lockdown.
Counsel said Cocco was on an enhanced regime in custody and was working in prison reception.
Mr Rafter said Cocco’s previous convictions are for drugs offences and that two of them were committed when he was a minor.
“He’s no innocent abroad; he money-laundered for profit,” responded Judge Nolan.
He is due for release in December 2023, the court heard.
Paul Murray SC, representing O’Carroll, said his client has no previous convictions and had pleaded guilty early.
He said ten per cent would remain in O’Carroll’s bank accounts as his “cut” from the money laundering operation.
Mr Murray presented a letter of apology from O’Carroll and other letters from his family, and added that his client would like to express his “utter remorse”.
“It was entirely out-of-character; there was no suggestion of involvement in the initial fraud; he was a classic mule,” said Mr Murray of O’Carroll.
Det Garda Szramowska agreed with Mr Murray said it was to be hoped that O’Carroll would not come before the courts again.
Det Garda Szramowska told Mr Matthews that AIB notified gardaí about a fraudulent payment of €2,700 in August 2019 that had come from a bank account in Brussels.
When AIB tried to recall the monies from the remitting bank, it found that the cash had already been withdrawn. The same thing happened when AIB and Bank of Ireland sought to recall each of the fraudulent payments, the court heard.
Cocco was arrested in July 2020 and interviewed seven times by gardaí. He admitted being approached by someone to use his AIB account, but he did not name this person. Cocco told gardaí he would meet with a Romanian man who would make him withdraw money and that he was given €250 in payment.
Cocco said he was not assisting an organised crime group but was doing a favour, counsel said.
Gardaí seized a Nokia phone and an iPhone belonging to Cocco which showed a link to the co-accused Carroll, who had made transfers into Cocco’s Revolut account.