CAB following the paper trail

In the Irish Times, Conor Lally reports that a tax bill of €4 million has already been served on Thomas Murphy[subs req] and details the links from the Murphy family to three companies, the latest being Ace Oils Ltd.. which all registered at the same address at different times over the last 20 years with different family members as directors. The CAB investigation is reported to be calculating the revenue from all three companies before preparing a further tax assessment. A separate report in the Irish Times[subs] also notes that, despite one initial report, no application to seize the farm itself was made following the raids at the start of this monthThere’s a suggestion of a modus operandi with the companies noted in the Irish Times

The first company which operated on a formal basis from Ballybinaby was Cowan Oils Ltd. According to records at the companies office, it was registered in 1983.

The directors are listed as Rosemary Murphy, who is married to Patrick Murphy, and Judy Murphy, the wife of Frank Murphy[both brothers of Thomas Murphy].

The company is now in liquidation after tax assessments were raised on it in the mid-1980s. The assessments were never paid and the company was formally put into liquidation in the early 1990s.

When this liquidation took place, a new company called Trillfield Ltd was formed. This traded in the fuel business from the same address in Ballybinaby.

According to records at the companies office the directors of Trillfield Ltd were Thomas (“Slab”) Murphy and Ann Kirk, with an address at Drumkeith, Inniskeen, Co Monaghan. Ann Kirk is Thomas “Slab” Murphy’s only sister.

Trillfield Ltd came to the attention of the Revenue Commissioners in the early 1990s and after an investigation tax assessments were raised against it. The company was wound up a short time later. Around the same time Ace Oils Ltd was established.

It traded from the same address at Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, as Cowan Oils Ltd and Trillfield Ltd before it. According to accounts at the companies office, the current directors are Ann Brennan (37), Cornonagh, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh and Joseph McEntee (30), the Crescent, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh.

The Irish Times has learned that extensive inquiries on both sides of the Border have failed to identify and locate either of these people.

A third director of Ace Oils Ltd is Ronan Kirk (30), Drumkeith, Inniskeen, Co Monaghan. Ronan Kirk is a nephew of Thomas “Slab” Murphy. He is Ann Kirk’s son.

Ronan Kirk was before the courts late last year in relation to his role in smuggling fuel across the Border from the North to the South. He was convicted in December 5th last after being detected crossing the Border into Co Monaghan with an oil tanker containing laundered fuel. The vehicle was confiscated from him and he was fined €1,900.

Much of the documentation seized by gardaí, PSNI and Revenue officials from the North and South in the March 9th cross-Border operation relates to the activities of Ace Oils.

I’m not entirely convinced that the tax route will win in the high stakes game.

And as the separate report in the Irish Times notes –

While the analysis of financial records seized, both on printed paper and on laptop computers, is still at an early stage, gardaí believe the paper trail created by those running the operation strongly indicates money laundering has been taking place.

More than €1 million in cash and cheques were seized in the raids. Great efforts had been made in the firm’s financial records to hide the funds’ origins.

The Irish Times understands that this may make it more difficult for the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) to identify those involved in the wider smuggling network, particularly those who bought laundered fuel in commercial quantities for resale.

Garda sources said despite Thomas “Slab” Murphy having no registered interest in Ace Oils Ltd, the fact that the company’s records were found on the Murphy family farm is strongly indicative of his interest in the firm. This link will need to be firmly established by gardaí as the investigation progresses.[emphasis added]

Some of the records seized relate to a working farm in the Ballybinaby area which is believed to be owned by the Murphy family.

While the €1 million in cash and cheques seized was put under the control of a Criminal Assets Bureau receiver by the High Court last week, no application in respect of the farm has been made.