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Dublin man sent for trial accused of conspiring to launder €500k in crime proceeds from drug trafficking

The investigation involved gardaí, as well as police forces and custom services in Australia and New Zealand.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Shutterstock/Laura Hutton

A 31-YEAR-OLD Dublin man has been sent forward for trial accused of conspiring to launder €500,000 in crime proceeds from an international cocaine trafficking operation.

Salon owner Francis Fennell, with an address at Balcurris Gardens, Ballymun, appeared before Judge Bryan Smyth at Dublin District Court today to be served with a book of evidence.

He faces a charge under the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act for conspiring with others to get crime proceeds into Ireland from 22 May 2012 until 1 June, 2016.

Judge Smyth agreed to the Director of Public Prosecution’s request to send him forward for trial to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where he will face his next hearing on 5 February next.

He is on €20,000 bail and has not yet indicted how he will plead.

Fennell came to court with his surety, and his solicitor Andrew Broderick, who got a signing on bail term reduced. The accused spoke only to confirm his name and that he understood he had to notify the prosecution within two weeks if he intended to use an alibi in his defence.

The case stems from a multi-jurisdictional investigation into alleged importation of cocaine couriers coming from Ireland to Australia and New Zealand.

He made no reply when charged, Detective Sergeant Ronan McMorrow, from the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, had told the court earlier.

The investigation involved gardaí, as well as police forces and custom services in Australia and New Zealand, he had told a bail hearing in October.

Detective Sergeant McMorrow had told the court 10 importations of high purity cocaine were allegedly identified. Cocaine in Australia and New Zealand had a higher value, four times than in Ireland, he said.

Proceeds were remitted back to Ireland from a bank account in New Zealand and via 50 Western Union cash transfers.

It was alleged Fennell and two co-conspirators set up an account in New Zealand with a lodgement of $200,000 (NZD). By the time that account was frozen, about $70,000 (NZD) was left in it, the court heard.

It was alleged Fennell attempted to launder €500,000 in Ireland.

The trial may not be reached until 2023, the court has heard.

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The offence can carry a jail term of 14 years.

While on bail, Fennell must sign on once daily at Ballymun Garda station; he also had to surrender travel documentation, and provide a contact phone number.

Two other men are also awaiting books of evidence and trial orders in connection with the investigation.

Gas technician Alan Fagan, 32, with an address at Charlestown Place, Finglas, Dublin 11 and 39-year-old welder Paul Fagan who lives at Clontarf Road, Dublin 3, face the same charge.

In their cases, bail was set at €8,500 each and they both needed independent sureties who had to lodge €4,000. They must sign on daily at their local Garda stations, be contactable by mobile phone and not leave the jurisdiction.

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