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Loyalist in handover of assets

A suspected loyalist paramilitary loan shark has handed over hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of assets to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

Melville Matthews, who was previously alleged in court to be a loyalist racketeer, and his wife, Joan Sylvia Matthews, have handed over a house in Antrim, land in Co Antrim and a sum of cash following civil court proceedings taken by SOCA.

In its civil recovery application SOCA claimed that Melville and Joan Matthews, from Steeple Road, Antrim, had derived the majority of their assets through “unlawful conduct namely operating as an unlicensed money lender and money launderer.”

An Interim Receiving Order was granted in 2005 when the High Court was told that Melville Matthews was a loyalist racketeer.

In its case to the court at the time, the Assets Recovery Agency — which has since been superseded by the Serious Organised Crime Agency — alleged that Matthews was closely involved in “illegal activities including loan sharking and the collection of protection monies”, as well as other activities “typically associated with loyalist paramilitarism”.

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