‘Money mule’ bank account used in laundering operation

By Brion Hoban

A “money mule” whose bank account was used as part of a €1.1 million money-laundering operation has received a fully suspended sentence.

Michael Cole (28) of Kilcronan Avenue, Clondalkin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the proceeds of criminal conduct at Bank of Ireland, Newlands Cross, Clondalkin, on May 17, 2016.

Criminal Courts of Justice 2 09032017

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Cole also pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis at his address on November 14, 2017. He has no previous convictions.

Detective Garda Ciaran Cummins told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that in April of 2016 a Danish company that reclaimed VAT repayments on behalf of companies based in the European Union received an email purporting to be from one of their clients.

This email requested that the repayments due to the company be paid into a new account. The Danish company made arrangements to change the account and transferred €14,403 due to the other company into the new account on May 11, 2016.

Two days later the Danish company transferred approximately €1.1 million into the new account. The money was then dispersed into a large amount of accounts around Ireland.

Cole received €20,000 into his bank account on May 17, 2016.

After obtaining a warrant to search his address, gardai also discovered a small amount of cannabis valued at €75.

In an interview with gardai, Cole said he was asked if he wanted to make some money for his children and he handed over his banking information.

He said that within two days of the money coming into his account he went to various locations along with other people who directed him to convert the money into US dollars and UK sterling.

Dt Garda Cummins said that Cole was not the main operator of the money laundering. He said that the first recipient of the money, who is now deceased, was the main operator.

Cole said he received €1,200 in cash and a phone worth €860 as payment.

 The court heard that €960,000 of the money has since been recovered and that €80,000 is still outstanding.

Dt Gda Cummins agreed with Dominic McGinn SC, defending, that the term “money mule” was often used to describe people like his client.

He agreed that Cole was involved in a custody dispute regarding his two children around the time of the offence, but has subsequently gained access to them.

Mr McGinn submitted that his client had been used by “people more adept in crime than he was”.

Judge Martin Nolan sentenced Cole to two-and-a-half-years imprisonment, which he suspended in full on strict conditions.

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