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squad leader Conor McGregor celebrates with members of Blackforge FC after Caribbean return

The UFC star headed to his Crumlin boozer after arriving home where he enjoyed pints and a bit of a sing song with the 'squad'

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McGregor was presented with the trophy by members of Blackforge FC

McGregor was presented with the trophy by members of Blackforge FC

McGregor was presented with the trophy by members of Blackforge FC

Conor McGregor has been celebrating with members of the Blackforge FC in his pub of the same name following his return from the Caribbean. 

The UFC star headed to his Crumlin boozer after arriving home where he enjoyed pints and a bit of a sing song with the "squad".

Posting the scenes on his Instagram stories, the sportsman took a video of the celebrations showing him brandishing a trophy that he had earlier been presented with from Black Forge FC for his role as chairman of the team.

It followed his return to Ireland following his trip to the Bahamas with his fiancée Dee Devlin where he had been ramping up training ahead of his return to the Octagon this summer.

While none of those in the video, or anyone involved in Blackforge FC has any connection with criminality, one of the members is notorious gangland figure Graham ‘The Wig’ Whelan.

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Graham 'the Wig' Whelan is a member of Blackforge FC

Graham 'the Wig' Whelan is a member of Blackforge FC

Graham 'the Wig' Whelan is a member of Blackforge FC

Earlier this year, Whelan lost a whopping €75k after a judge ruled that the money was the Proceeds of Crime.

Whelan had tried to disguise the money as a legitimate loan from a relative, named in court as John Wilson, to a business venture.

However, Justice Alexander Owens said he believed that the convicted drug dealer was paying it back in cash made from his criminal enterprise.

Whelan is already serving a jail term for money laundering after he was nabbed in a hotel room with €1,200 in cash and an expensive wrist watch.

He was sentenced by the Special Criminal Court in November after evidence was heard that he told gardai that he got the cash from ‘up his Swiss roll’ during the arrest and warned detectives; ‘I’m a dangerous criminal.’

A CAB investigation got underway following the hotel bust – the second seizure in a hotel in Whelan’s criminal career – and the money was discovered in a bank account.

It had been transferred to Whelan who would later explain that it was a business loan that he intended paying back over five years with interest to his uncle Wilson.

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Whelan had moved back from the UK to Ireland in 2016 to set up a business cleaning wheelie bins for householders, the court heard, and had an ‘investment company’ which had purchased a parcel of unidentified land.

In a judgement read by Justice Owens to the High Court Whelan was described as a ‘career criminal’ involved in organised crime for a long time.

Garda intelligence, the court heard, listed Whelan as an importer of drugs and an associate of a major crime gang.

Whelan had moved to the UK in 2009 and lived there until 2016, a court heard.

Documents found during CAB searches following his arrest in January 2019 in a room in the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin suggested that he had property in the UK and that he had been paying a mortgage which had been transferred to a vulture fund.

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Graham Whelan

Graham Whelan

Graham Whelan

The document was found in Mr Wilson's property who the Judge described as a ‘trusted confidante’ of Whelan.

It was also heard that Whelan was in possession of a drugs 'tick list' and an Encrochat phone at the time of his arrest which happened 18 months before Dutch and French police hacked into the network and staged massive arrests across Europe.

The Judgement detailed the High Court’s belief that Whelan was trying to launder funds from crime through ‘legitimate’ businesses and had borrowed a total of €110k from Mr Wilson who had later paid a builder €34,000 in cash to renovate his home.

The money, Justice Owens believed, was likely payments made to him by Whelan from the proceeds of crime in respect of the ‘loans’ and was a way of washing the dirty money.

Whelan had set up his bin cleaning company in 2017, the court heard and had one vehicle on the road but large amounts of funds had transferred through the business accounts in what Justice Owens said was a ‘cash’ business.

Whelan’s explanations in regard to monies when questioned by CAB were ‘unsatisfactory and unbelievable’ the Judge said.

He also said that Whelan was ‘vague and unconvincing’ when quizzed about his ‘business dealings.’

Whelan, known as ‘The Wig’, had been a close associate of Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh for years and left Ireland after new gangland laws came in out of fear he would be targeted.

He had been a key member of the Crumlin/Drimnagh gang that imploded and went to war after a cocaine bust at the Holiday Inn Hotel in 2000.

Both he and his pal Phillip Griffiths received hefty sentences in relation to the €1.6 million seizure.

Arising from his arrest at the Intercontinental, he pleaded guilty to participating in the actions of an organised crime gang by laundering money for the group.

He also admitted to being in possession of €1,200 in cash and a €28,000 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak gentleman’s watch.

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Conor McGregor in The Black Forge Inn pub

Conor McGregor in The Black Forge Inn pub

Conor McGregor in The Black Forge Inn pub

The Special Criminal Court heard that he had 33 previous convictions along with a conviction for grievous bodily harm relating to a bar brawl in Spain in 2016.

At the time of his sentencing last November his defence counsel Michael Bowman said Whelan had four children, aged between three and 10, and that he was their primary carer following the death of his partner.

Mr Bowman said he had undergone drug and alcohol counselling and that his priority was the upbringing of his children since the passing of their mother.

Justice Tony Hunt sentenced him to three years imprisonment on each count of money laundering to run concurrently and suspended the last 18 months of each sentence for four years so he could demonstrate his change in lifestyle.

Since his incarceration, Sunday World has reported how he has been visited on a number of occasions by Aoife McGregor, a sister of Conor McGregor, who has no involvement in criminality.

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