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Kinahan gangster Graham ‘The Wig’ Whelan loses appeal over €75k seized by CAB

Court of Appeal Judge Nuala Butler said Whelan had tried to disguise the €75,000 as a legitimate loan from his uncle-in-law

Graham Whelan outside court and pictured in his dressing gown outside his home

Alan SherrySunday World

Senior Kinahan gang member Graham ‘The Wig’ Whelan has lost his appeal against a High Court ruling that €75,000 held in his bank account was the proceeds of crime.

The Sunday World photographed the convicted drug dealer (40) outside his Dublin home last week after he served 14 months of an 18-month sentence for money laundering offences, including possession of a €28,000 watch.

The conviction arose out of the same investigation that resulted in the seizure of the €75,000.

Whelan, who is a self-described “dangerous criminal” been due to get out on Christmas Eve but got an early Christmas present when prison authorities decided to release him three days early due to security concerns.

However, he was left disappointed last Friday when the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal against a High Court ruling that €75,000 seized from him was the proceeds of crime.

Court of Appeal Judge Nuala Butler said Whelan had tried to disguise the €75,000 as a legitimate loan from his uncle-in-law John Wilson who is married to Whelan’s mother’s sister.

The €75,000 had been transferred to Whelan’s account by Mr Wilson on January 18, 2019, days before members of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau raided Whelan’s room at the Intercontinental Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin, on January 31, 2019.

Gardai seized a watch, cash and other items during the raid.

The following day Wilson and Whelan signed a formal loan agreement for the €75,000 at Whelan’s solicitor’s office.

Subsequent garda investigations identified an AIB account in Whelan’s name in which €75,000 was held and that sum was seized.

The money was part of a larger sum of compensation Mr Wilson received legitimately arising out of a workplace accident.

That sum was not the proceeds of crime when it was in Mr Wilson’s possession but the Criminal Assets Bureau argued that the €75,000 was received by Whelan “as part of a money laundering scheme under which the appellant would repay Mr Wilson using monies derived from his criminal activities”.

The judgement said that Whelan and Mr Wilson swore affidavits for the purposes of the District Court application under Section 19 of the 2010 Act in which they claimed the €75,000 loan was for another business run by the appellant through a company called Imperium Investments Limited.

Judge Butler said: “Mr. Wilson did not mention this company in his interview with An Garda Síochána in May 2019. In his affidavit the appellant states that the money was to ‘be used as seed money for legitimate business’ but does not identify Imperium as the business in question.

This may have been because that company, which was incorporated in September 2018 and dissolved during 2020, was no longer in existence at the time the affidavit was sworn. There is no evidence that Imperium Investments Limited ever conducted any business.”

The judgement noted there was some suggestion the money was intended to be used to buy a plot of land but Whelan refused to identify where the site was.

In the original High Court case the trial judge regarded Whelan’s explanations in respect of the loan as “unsatisfactory and unbelievable” and concluded he got the money to “use it for money laundering” and intended to repay Mr Whelan “from proceeds of crime”.

Graham Whelan

At the Court of Appeal last week Judge Butler said while there was no direct evidence of repayment of any part of the €75,000 there was similar fact evidence of repayments having been made by Whelan to Wilson and a pattern of transactions between the two men which were part of an earlier money laundering scheme

She added: “The money which was to be laundered by the appellant is the profit from the drugs trade in respect of which the High Court was clearly satisfied that he was involved.”

She continued: “In this instance, the borrowing of €75,000 with a legitimate provenance from Mr Wilson is the first step in the process of a money laundering exercise in which dirty money would then be used to repay the loan.’

The judge also said that the money was received by Whelan “in connection with -in the sense of being for the purposes of -criminal conduct, namely money laundering.”

The court dismissed Whelan’s appeal.

Whelan was released from prison last week after serving time for participating in the actions of an organised crime gang by laundering money for the group.

He also pleaded guilty to possession of €1,200 in cash and an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak gentleman’s watch, the proceeds of crime, at the Intercontinental Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin, on January 31, 2019.

Whelan further admitted he had paid €2,140 for a three-night stay at the hotel at Room 342, knowing or believing that the money was the proceeds of criminal conduct.

Earlier this year, the Sunday World revealed Whelan was visited on a number of occasions by Conor McGregor’s sister Aoife while behind bars after they became close friends following the breakdown of her marriage. There is no suggestion she is involved in criminality.

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