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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 22 February, 2020

CAB to seize €530k in accounts belonging to firm which sold gangland criminals untraceable phones

Millions of euro was funnelled through the two accounts.

Image: Shutterstock/Motortion Films

OVER €500.000 held in two Irish bank accounts is to be seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau following a High Court ruling.

The orders come on foot of an investigation conducted by CAB in conjunction with the FBI and relate to a Canada based company called Phantom Secure – a company which supplied drug traffickers with phones and devices which were undetectable by law enforcement.

The application for the seizure before Ms Justice Stewart were made on consent of the Respondent, Mr Vincent Ramos, in respect of funds held with AIB totaling in excess of €530,000. 

Vincent Ramos, the chief executive of Phantom Secure, pleaded guilty on 2 October 2018 in the USA to leading a criminal enterprise that “facilitated the transnational importation and distribution of narcotics through the sale and service of encrypted communications devices”.

A statement by CAB explained what Ramos had admitted.

“In his plea agreement, Ramos admitted that he and his co-conspirators facilitated the distribution of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine to locations around the world including in the United States, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Thailand and Europe by supplying narcotics traffickers with Phantom Secure encrypted communications devices designed to thwart law enforcement.

To keep the communications out of the reach of law enforcement, Ramos and others maintained Phantom Secure servers in Panama and Hong Kong, used virtual proxy servers to disguise the physical location of its servers, and remotely deleted or “wiped” devices seized by law enforcement.

phantom A breakdown of Phantom Secure's business. Source: Facebook/Criminal Assets Bureau

Ramos and his co-conspirators required a personal reference from an existing client to obtain a Phantom Secure device. He used digital currencies, including Bitcoin, to facilitate financial transactions for Phantom Secure to protect users’ anonymity and launder proceeds from Phantom Secure. Ramos admitted that at least 450 kilograms of cocaine were distributed using Phantom Secure devices.

Gardaí raided a premises in Dublin city centre in March of this year. It is understood that Ramos established a base here to reduce his taxable income in his native Canada. 

It also emerged that over €12 million had been funnelled through the two Irish AIB accounts before they were frozen.

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