Multi million fraudster has sentence deferred
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
A NEWRY man who laundered more than £23 million of cash for criminals has had his sentencing deferred for one year after a Serious Crime Prevention Order was imposed.
Rory Trainor's bureau de change on the city's Old Dublin Road was at the centre of what customs officials have described as the north's biggest ever money laundering case.
Trainor of Dunbrae appeared at Newry Crown Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to one count of false accounting, two of transferring criminal property and one of entering an arrangement to acquire criminal property, while 29 charges he initially faced were left on the books.
In less than two and a half years, the Best Rate bureau de change handled more than £63 million, most of which came from drug dealers north and south of the border.
After opening in 2006, suspicions were raised with HMRC when Trainor failed to comply with regulations, and after a number of warning letters he was fined £5,000.
The Operation Gripman investigation was then launched after HMRC officials suspected Trainor was conducting off-book business with criminal gangs, offering money laundering services with no questions asked.
The 37-year-old was caught after investigators recorded him exchanging parcels of cash in a west Belfast car park in 2009.
Footage shows a man called Ciaran Parker, a convicted drug dealer from Downpatrick, waiting in a blue Audi, while Trainor pulls up in a black Range Rover. Parker then hands over a plastic bag filled with cash and leaves.
Derek Dubery, HMRC's senior investigator on Operation Gripman, said: "If you were not there to witness that transaction, that 20 seconds in time, that's the only record of that transaction having taken place. No paper records, so ideal for the criminals and it was very important that Mr Trainor could offer that service to them.
“It is, quite frankly, amazing, and I'm sure Mr Trainor isn't alone in operating this kind of business in Northern Ireland.
“It's people like Mr Trainor that make it possible for criminals to act with impunity in Northern Ireland. The beauty of the service that Mr Trainor was offering is that criminals could act in a way that they could never be identified.
“Our surveillance team also witnessed the handover of a package at a public house beside the A1 dual carriageway. A short time later, the PSNI stopped the other vehicle involved. The equivalent of £40,000 in euros was found in that vehicle and Mr Trainor's fingerprints were on the wrapping of that cash and one of the things that Mr Trainor has pleaded guilty to is knowing that that transaction involved the proceeds of crime.
“It just goes to show how much money is generated by the drugs trade and other criminality within Northern Ireland and how important it is for the criminals that there is someone like Mr Trainor to deal with that money."
Both Parker and Kevin Sullivan from north Belfast, who was involved in the exchange on the A1, were given six month prison terms at Newry Crown Court after pleading guilty to transferring criminal property.
HMRC officers also raided Trainor's home as part of Operation Gripman where they found over £150,000 in cash which was hidden in a floor safe and a beer cooler. Investigators also found Trainor was behind the movement of £60,000 to Bulgaria in 2009.
In an unusual move on Wednesday, Judge Kevin Finnegan QC, deferred sentencing for a full year to see how Trainor complies with the conditions imposed by a Serious Crime Prevention Order.
The order will limit Trainor's business activities and set out a timetable for confiscation of his profits of crime.
He is due back in court at the end of March 2015.
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