Almost €160k laundered through man’s accounts linked to fraud
A man who allowed his bank accounts to launder nearly €160,000 linked to an international invoice redirection fraud has been given a year to come up with a way to pay back some of the money reports Sonya McLean.
Ian Coughlan (45) of Newcastle Manor Close, Newcastle, Co. Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four charges of engaging in possessing a total of €159,250, believing or being reckless as to whether it was the proceeds of crime at an Allied Irish Bank account and a Bank of Ireland account on dates between June and October 2016. He has no previous convictions.
Detective Garda Shane Fitzsimons told Sinéad McMullan BL, prosecuting, that gardai were contacted in relation to a fraudulent payment of €39,251 which was received into Coughlan’s AIB bank account.
It related to the transfer of funds by a Turkish aviation company to what it believed was a Ukrainian supplier.
The company had been contacted days previously and asked to change the bank account details for onward payment to their supplier. They became aware it was a fraud when the money was never received.
Gardai secured a warrant to search Coughlan’s home using the information provided by the bank and Coughlan was arrested there on May 17, 2017.
Det Garda Fitzsimons said while Coughlan was being detained for questioning, further information was received in relation to a similar fraud.
A French plastics company transferred €120,000 into Coughlan’s Bank of Ireland account after the company was directed to amend the bank details of their supplier before making payment.
Coughlan told gardai in interview that he was contacted by some Nigerian men who asked if they could use his bank account to set up a business. He was told he would get 10 per cent of the cash lodged into the account.
Coughlan met a person in a phone shop and provided them with his bank cards and login details. He said he was told “someone needed money to get into Ireland” and Coughlan admitted he thought there was “something fishy about it”.
He said the same people then contacted him in relation to the second company. He never got his 10 per cent cut from the previous fraud and he was told that when the French transactions went through he would get all the cash and an additional 10 per cent.
Det Garda Fitzsimons said in relation to the second fraud, Coughlan had been instructed to go into his branch and transfer a total of €30,000 into four different bank accounts.
It was accepted that Coughlan was not involved in the fraud itself.
Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, told Judge Melanie Greally that he will be putting “an extensive medical history” before the court, but asked for an adjournment to allow for the preparation of a report from the Probation Service.
Having previously adjourned the case, Judge Greally said that she would place Coughlan on a bond for one year to keep the peace and engage with the Probation Service.
“During the course of next year he can apply his mind to how he can make good the financial loss in this case,” she said. She added that if at the end of this period there was satisfactory compliance and there are concrete proposals to restitution, she would consider a non-custodial sentence.
In a previous hearing, she noted that it was “quite clear that this is an international fraud that can only operate on the basis that people are happy to allow their bank accounts to be used”.