CAB are Cracking down, on Car Dealers, and others, for Gangland Alleged Money Laundering? Careful, where you buy, your, Porche, this Xmas?

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Used car firm set up to launder Limerick drug gangs cash, CAB claim

Vehicles were imported from Northern Ireland and the UK with illicit cash and sold to unsuspecting customers in Ireland, CAB says.

The CAB raid on Bawn Motors
The CAB raid on Bawn Motors

16th December 2022

A Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) investigation has claimed a second-hand car firm had been set up to launder cash for Limerick drug gangs.

Although not registered as directors, CAB has said in a High Court action that businessmen Shane Curtin, Mike Nash and John O’Donoghue were involved in running the used car company, Bawn Motors.

When the Bureau raided the company in March 2019, seizing 111 vehicles — including luxury model Mercedes, BMW and Audis — it was one of the biggest such operations carried out by the agency.

John O’Donoghue, who is serving 10 years in prison
John O’Donoghue, who is serving 10 years in prison

In their case against the firm and Mike Nash this week it was heard that Bawn Motors was “established to launder the proceeds of crime.”

Both the company and Nash oppose the application and deny the CAB’s claims. Bawn Motors operated out of a portacabin located on a leased lot in Limerick.

Vehicles were imported from Northern Ireland and the UK with illicit cash and sold to unsuspecting customers in Ireland, CAB says.

VAT fraud worth €1.2 million was also uncovered, while prices and deposits were deliberately exaggerated to a company providing finance for buyers.

CAB says a number of known criminals were collated by gardai driving vehicles from Bawn Motors.

The company has been used by people with extensive links to local, national and international criminals to launder money generated by illegal drug dealing, according to CAB.

The cars were subsequently sold by CAB and the case now centres on the €820,000 they got at auction along with €20,000 in a bank account associated with the firm.

The CAB investigation uncovered links with a UK company, which a senior Durham police officer said was run by two criminals who have since been disqualified as company directors.

It is CAB’s case that the Irish firm paid the British company, which doesn’t have a premises, €2.2 million for cars that were shipped to Ireland for re-sale.

Investigators linked 28 of the seized vehicles to the Durham dealers, who claimed they had supplied 50 vehicles to Bawn Motors.

High-end models were sold off by CAB for a total of ¤820,000
High-end models were sold off by CAB for a total of ¤820,000

CAB stated in its case there was also evidence that €1 million in cash had been paid through a bureau de change outside the jurisdiction.

The company had been set up and started trading in 2015, but no proper records were kept and explanations offered by those linked to the firm were not accepted by CAB.

Shane Curtin and Michael Nash, from Newcastlewest, were named as being in control of the company, along with John O’Donoghue from Rathkeale.

Curtin had originally sought to join the case, claiming several of the seized cars were his, but his application has not been followed through.

It was heard that he told gardai in interviews he bought cars in the UK and built-up funds in Bawn Motors but hadn’t provided any evidence to back up his claims.

Counsel for CAB also said he had denied having anything to do with Mike Nash, even though they had known each other for years.

Another man was described as the front man for the firm, but CAB got statements from customers and suppliers to say they had dealt with Curtin, Nash and O’Donoghue.

O’Donoghue hit the headlines last year when he got a ten-year prison sentence for a vicious machete attack in which his victim thought he was going to die.

He attacked the 74-year-old in a planned ambush on the victim’s first return to Rathkeale for 17 years.

O’Donoghue had previously been targeted by CAB and the UK’s National Crime Agency as he set up a cannabis deal in 2013.

CAB sold off the high-end models
CAB sold off the high-end models

Caught on covert surveillance footage, O’Donoghue pleaded guilty to facilitating drug trafficking deals and got a two-year suspended sentence.

His Rathkeale home was raided as part of Operation Oakleaf which related to suspected organised crime activity in Ireland, the UK and Europe.

He became aggressive and abusive during the search operation in 2016 and ended up being fined €300 over the incident.

CAB claims Mike Nash is involved in criminality and the importation and sale of illegal drugs.

He is an associate of known criminals in the Limerick area, including crime boss and convicted drug dealer Christy Keane, and the Kinahan organised crime gang.

It was heard that it is CAB’s case that Mike Nash, who also operates another car sales business, was one of the people running the firm

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