Two More Irishmen Involved in IRA Operation in Bulgaria - Report

Politics | February 23, 2005, Wednesday // 00:00

Two more Irish citizens travelled to Bulgaria in connection with activities which are under investigation as part of an alleged IRA money laundering operation, according to the Wednesday's issue of Irish Examiner newspaper.

The two men reportedly travelled as part of a group of six that included Cork businessman Ted Cunningham and former Government aide Phil Flynn on a week-long trip to the capital, Sofia, at the end of January.

Their names are known to the Irish Examiner but are not disclosed for legal reasons. One of the men is believed to be a speculator.

A German-based male solicitor with business contacts in Bulgaria and Ireland and a female representative of an international consulting firm made up the group.

A day earlier the newspaper reported that IRA have been negotiating to buy a bank in Bulgaria.

"The Provisionals have been working with a Bulgarian crime syndicate for the last year, trying to take control of a bank to be used to launder cash from their criminal operations, security sources said, quoted by the Telegraph. The banking operation would have lasted until 2007, when Bulgaria joins the EU, and would then become subject to stringent financial controls."

The newspaper claims that the former chairman of Bank of Scotland in Ireland, Phil Flynn, has met with a Bulgarian finance official during a recent business trip. According to the report Flynn and Ted Cunningham, both directors of Chesterton Finance, held meetings with an official from the Bulgarian Finance Ministry and a senior banker during a trip to Sofia two weeks ago. Chesterton Finance is the subject of investigations on the grounds that it is a suspected vehicle for IRA money laundering.

The IRA's "colossal" money laundering business has been unravelled after Irish security services spotted a Bulgarian arms dealer at a meeting in Ireland.

Police believe the Bulgarian bank would have been used to launder the estimated 30 million pounds a year the IRA receives from counterfeiting, robberies, extortion, racketeering and smuggling, the paper also reads.

Bulgarian officials confirmed Tuesday Flynn had met a senior Ministry of Finance official during his visit.

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