payback | 

Irish haulier who trafficked drugs for Kinahan crime gang hit with demand for €724k

An NCA financial investigation had revealed that Maher and his wife lived like millionaires despite being on less than minimum wage for tax purposes

Thomas Maher owned flash cars and expensive watches

Thomas Maher

High-end motors were seized

Luxury watches were also confiscated

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Rogue haulier Thomas Maher from Clara in Co Offaly, who is serving a 14-year jail sentence in the UK for money laundering and drug trafficking, has been hit with a demand for £630,000 (€724,000).

The feared gangster who worked with other criminal groups including the Kinahan cartel was involved in organised crime for over two decades.

He lived a luxurious lifestyle and blew hundreds of thousands of pounds on cars, holidays and jewellery before he was jailed for 14 years and eight months at Liverpool Crown Court in December 2020, after admitting importing class A drugs into the UK and two charges of money laundering.

A National Crime Agency (NCA) financial investigation had revealed that Maher and his wife lived like millionaires despite being on less than minimum wage for tax purposes.

He has now been returned to Liverpool Crown Court for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing where he was ordered to pay back £629,159.

High-end motors were seized

The assets included his detached home in Woolston, Cheshire, cars, lorries, jewellery, a number of high value watches, artwork and gold ingots bought in Dubai.

Judge David Potter ordered Maher pay the sum back within three months or face an extra six years in jail.

Maher came onto the National Crime Agency (NCA) radar when he was arrested in connection with the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants found dead in the back of a lorry in Purfleet, Essex in October 2019.

The tractor unit involved had at one point been owned by Maher and was still registered in his wife’s name even after it was sold.

Maher was not charged in relation to that case, but he has been described by the NCA as “the logistics man for a number of crime groups”, moving drugs and profits across Europe.

During a seven month surveillance operation NCA officers watched Maher meet with criminal associates at hotels and in public spaces in the North West to organise the trafficking of cocaine from the Netherlands to the UK and Ireland.

As well as drugs, Maher also helped to facilitate the movement of large sums of cash, charging a commission for his involvement

NCA officers arrested Maher on 13 June 2020 at his home after receiving intelligence that he planned to leave the country.

Luxury watches were also confiscated

His lucrative operation was taken down through evidence obtained by the National Crime Agency as part of Operation Venetic – the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of EncroChat.

The NCA’s Head of Asset Denial, Rob Burgess, said: “This significant result demonstrates the agency’s ability to recover criminal assets, and prevent criminals from benefitting from their wrongdoing.

“Thomas Maher was a career criminal who was trusted by some of Europe’s biggest crime groups to move their drugs and money.

“The confiscation order will ensure money he made will be returned to the public purse to fund further efforts to protect the public from organised crime.”

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