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CAB seeks orders over assets allegedly acquired by Kinahan's top representative in Ireland

CAB alleges that in 2013 Browning purchased a 1.3-hectare site in Garristown for €120,000

THE CRIMINAL ASSETS Bureau has asked the High Court for orders allowing it to permanently seize some €1.7 million of assets it says were obtained with the proceeds of crime by senior Kinahan organised crime gang member Ross Browning.

The court heard that senior Gardai believe that Browning is the gang’s “principal representative” in Ireland.

The assets include a property in Garristown in North Co Dublin, lands in Rush and a house on Deanstown Road, Finglas in Dublin, as well as several motor vehicles, luxury watches, and jewellery seized by CAB officers following a raid in 2018.

In particular CAB alleges that in 2013 Browning purchased a 1.3-hectare site in Garristown for €120,000 on which he subsequently developed a residence, a new shed on the land.

CAB also claims that Browning restored an old cottage on the site for approximately €330,000.

CAB’s claim that the lands and the works were all paid for by Browning is disputed.

CAB has brought proceedings under the 1996 Proceeds of Crime Act seeking orders allowing it to freeze the assets.

Browning has not contested CAB’s application; however, members of his family reject the bureaus claims in respect of some of the assets.

Browning’s relatives, including his mother Julie Conway and her partner David O’Brien have claimed an interest in the assets, and contend that they were purchased by legitimate funds.

It is also claimed that CAB is not entitled to take possession of assets that it is alleged form part of the estate of the late William Conway, who was Browning’s grandfather, who died in 2018.

Opening the case Benedict Ó Floinn SC, with Grainne O’Neill Bl for CAB said that Ross Browning is a leading member of the transnational Kinahan organised crime gang, whose operations have an estimated worth of €1 billion.

Browning, counsel said, was an associate of senior Kinahan gang members including its head Christopher Kinahan Snr, his sons Daniel and Christopher Junior, who counsel said “handle the day-to-day running” of that organisation.

The Kinahan gang, counsel added, is involved in criminal activities, including drug dealing, the importation of weapons, murder and money laundering in South America, the Middle East and mainland Europe as well as in Ireland.

Browning is the gang’s “principal representative in this jurisdiction” counsel said, adding that Browning has also associated with other gang members including Liam Byrne, Glen Holland, Freddie Thompson, Gary Finnegan and Barry Finnegan who is the partner of Browning’s sister Cheryl.

Counsel said that Browning, a bricklayer by profession who had also operated a Dublin gym, had obtained assets by “intermingling money” that was the proceeds of crime with money belonging to members of his family.

It is CAB belief that Browning did not have the means to pay for the assets from legitimately earned funds.

It is also claimed that the assets were allegedly purchased and registered in the names of persons known or related to Browning.

Counsel said that at one point he made a payment for works and materials used at one of the properties out of an account in the name of one of his children, who at the time was approximately eight years old.

Counsel said that it is CAB’s case that the house in Deanstown Road, Finglas was acquired for approximately €56,000 more than ten years ago and is an asset which was acquired with the proceeds of crime.

Following the purchase, the house was registered in William Conway’s name.

The house, which was in a poor state at the time of purchase, was sold twelve months later after being extensively renovated for approximately €120,000 to a relative of Browning.

Another relative of Browning is alleged to currently reside in the property.

The court heard that the registered owner of the property Ian O’Haire, a cousin of Ross Browning denies CAB claims that the proceeds of crime were used to repair or acquire the property.

Counsel said that the property at Garristown had been acquired in 2013, and says that Ross Browning has resided there with his partner and their children in a house built in one part of the property.

In 2015-16 it is claimed that Browning reconstructed an old cottage on the site into a property called Chestnut Lodge.

Counsel said it is not accepted by CAB that anyone other than Browning owns the property.

Many of the parties who carried out the works on the property primarily dealt with Ross Browning, he said.

Counsel said that it is CAB’s understanding that the development in Garristown does not have planning permission.

Counsel said that Browning’s mother Julie Conway lives in the lodge with her partner and a former detective Garda, David O’Brien.

It is claim that ‘Chestnut Lodge’ was owned by her late father (William Conway), and not her son, who had wanted her to have the property.

Counsel said that they dispute the amount of money CAB alleges was spent on the renovations.

It is claimed that the works cost between €80,000 to €100,000 and was part funded by a loan obtained by O’Brien from St Raphael’s Garda Credit Union.

Counsel said that other assets that were the subject of proceedings include an Audi SUV, which was obtained in exchange from two other vehicles, a black Mercedes Benz Van, and a motorbike.

Counsel also said that other items seized by CAB include a diamond and several luxury watches worth an estimated €60,000, which along with the vehicles were seized by CAB in the 2018 raid on the Garristown property.

The hearing before Justice Alexander Owens continues.

Aodhan O Faolain