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Wiggy bank Graham 'The Wig' Whelan tried to use stock exchange to launder dirty cash

Whelan is the subject of a major money-laundering investigation by the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) and this month was named in Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) proceedings against him.

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Graham ‘The Wig’ Whelan.

Graham ‘The Wig’ Whelan.

The murder of journalist Veronica Guerin led to a major focus by gardaí on gang crime

The murder of journalist Veronica Guerin led to a major focus by gardaí on gang crime

Freddie Thompson

Freddie Thompson

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Graham ‘The Wig’ Whelan.

Drug dealer Graham 'the Wig' Whelan tried to use the stock exchange to launder his dirty money and saved more than €75,000 in a bank account.

But the Rolex-wearing high flyer has been reduced to the scrap heap after a series of personal tragedies and a crackdown by gardaí that have left him counting the cost of his life of crime.

Whelan has lost his partner and his best friend in the past year to suicides and now he is set to lose his loot and possibly his freedom as his past finally catches up on him.

A senior member of Thomas 'Bomber' Kavanagh's outfit, Whelan is the subject of a major money-laundering investigation by the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) and this month was named in Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) proceedings against him. The Bureau are looking for cash, an expensive watch, shares held with Davy Stockbrokers and a bank account which they have identified as the proceeds of crime.

Criminal investigations are ongoing into money-laundering offences.

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Drug dealer Graham Whelan is under pressure

Drug dealer Graham Whelan is under pressure

Drug dealer Graham Whelan is under pressure

His fall from the top of the gangland ladder comes more than 20 years after a major cocaine bust in a Holiday Inn hotel resulted in a fallout within a teenage mob which led to the brutal Crumlin and Drimnagh feud.

Whelan later fled Ireland as gardaí tried to move in on him using anti-gangland legislation and he later pitched up in Birmingham where he sat at 'Bomber' Kavanagh's top table.

He moved between there and the Spanish party island of Ibiza where Kavanagh and the his 'Byrne Organised Crime Group' often tested new product in the in clubs.

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Whelan worked under gang boss Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh

Whelan worked under gang boss Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh

Whelan worked under gang boss Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh

Gardaí suspect the group invested money on Ibiza and elsewhere in the Balearic Islands and that Kavanagh and other senior members of the Byrne group bought up luxury properties there.

Gardaí are continuing to work with their counterparts in the Balearics and particularly on Majorca where tourist Trevor O'Neill was murdered by a hitman in August 2016. It is believed that the gunman was Glen Clarke, who later shot himself by accident on the way to another hit.

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His intended target at the time was Jonathan Hutch and not O'Neill, who had no involvement in organised crime.

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Glen Clarke wounded himself on the way to a hit

Glen Clarke wounded himself on the way to a hit

Glen Clarke wounded himself on the way to a hit

Whelan is suspected of running a number of the group's drug networks and of laundering funds through the building and car industry.

His return to Dublin three years ago coincided with the mob's desperate struggle to stabilise their losses following the Regency Hotel spectacular of 2016, which led to the biggest crackdown on organised crime in Ireland since the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin.

Whelan tried to slip back into Dublin and set himself up as a legitimate businessman but he quickly came under the spotlight of both the DOCB and the CAB - two specialist units who have worked together to bring down the mob.

The 39-year-old registered a property company along with associate Mark Elliot, who is married to Conor McGregor's sister Aoife.

However, Imperium Developments Limited was dissolved last March having never filed company accounts.

Whelan has also registered another company involved in the 'green waste' industry, which is listed as 'normal' in the Companies Office.

Eco Green Wheelie Clean Ireland says its principal activity is the collection of non-hazardous waste and it filed accounts last year claiming to have just €4,500 in fixed assets.

A year after he returned to Ireland, in May 2019, Whelan was arrested in his Crumlin home as part of a major probe into money laundering. At the time, 18 properties were searched, including his house at Clonard Road and the home of his business partner Elliot at the K Club in Co. Kildare.

Among the items seized was a €58,000 Rolex watch and evidence of stock held through Davy Stockbrokers as well as bundles of cash.

Documents later led officers to a bank account containing €75,000 - now identified as the proceeds of crime.

Investigations are on-going into money spent on some of the homes linked to the raids and into money-laundering offences.

After his release pending the outcome of the investigation, Whelan returned to his Dublin home where he lived with his partner and children. But she died in tragic circumstances last September leaving the mobster devastated.

He was a close childhood friend of murdered David Byrne, who was shot dead at the Regency Hotel and last month his best pal, Phillip Griffiths, died by suicide.

He was discovered at his home in Dublin.

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David Byrne

David Byrne

David Byrne

Both friends were caught red-handed with cocaine at the Holiday Inn during an infamous raid in 2000 and were jailed.

The pair had later worked under 'Fat' Freddie Thompson when he took command in the Crumlin and Drimnagh feud after Declan Gavin was killed.

Ironically, another associate of Thompson also found himself before the courts with the CAB this week. DJ Adam Keatinge, formerly Marcus Lane, is a respondent in the proceeds-of-crime case which was due for hearing on Friday but which was adjourned because affidavits were late and not sworn properly.

Justice Alexander Owens heard that it had been difficult to get responding affidavits from Keatinge as he had been hospitalised last year. Barrister Paul Comiskey O'Keeffe said his client had long-standing 'mental health issues' and was currently on anti-psychotic medications.

He said he had been admitted to hospital last November for what he described as a 'growth on his brain'.

"The spell in hospital didn't do his mental health any good and it has been difficult to have consultations with him since," Mr Comiskey O'Keeffe said. He told the court that his solicitor had been finally instructed by voice message on what to say to the court in an unsigned affidavit.

The proceeds-of-crime case lists Keatinge along with his co-respondents Yazan Abu Jaber, Dario Simoes and Veronika Saly. Ms Saly, the court heard, had previously worked as a lapdancer.

In June 2016, Keatinge, along with Abu Jaber, from Jordan and Sinoes, from Portugal, were stopped in the North with €60,000 in cash.

On arrest, it was discovered that Keatinge had €10,000 stashed in his underpants. Their lawyers later rejected that the money was the proceeds of crime which was being taken to Holland but told the High Court in Belfast that the money was to have a 'good time' on a trip to Amsterdam.

At the time, Keatinge, with an address at Parkmount Street in Belfast, said he ran an events business.

Opposing bail for all three, prosecution counsel said: "Police believe they are members of an organised crime gang. They were leaving the country with large quantities of cash, believed to be the proceeds of crime."

An officer told the court that police believed the money was to be used in the drugs trade.

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