Ex-IRA man 'led fake dollars plot'
A veteran Irish republican handed over almost a quarter of a million fake US dollars in Russian hotels in an international plot to spread the supernotes across Europe, a court has heard.
Authorities in the US have accused Sean Garland of being the ringleader of a massive forgery racket that distributed the top grade counterfeit 100 dollar bills.
The former IRA leader is fighting his extradition to the US at the High Court in Dublin, which heard Garland met a co-conspirator twice in Moscow with the fake cash.
Garland, 77, also the ex-president of the Workers' Party of Ireland, denies the allegations.
In an affidavit to the court, Brenda Johnson, assistant US attorney, said: "This case involved a long-standing and large-scale supernotes distribution network (the Garland organisation) based in the Republic of Ireland and headed by Sean Garland, a senior officer in the Irish Workers' Party."
The US Secret Service (USSS) discovered the supernotes were sourced in the Democratic Republic of North Korea, she said, and were transported around the world by North Korean officials travelling under diplomatic cover. Ms Johnson alleged one of Garland's alleged co-conspirators, Hugh Todd, told investigators he purchased more than 250,000 dollars of supernotes from "the Garland organisation" which were redistributed into the world economy through currency exchanges across Europe.
He maintained he first met the Irishman in the Radisson Hotel in Moscow in April 1998, where Mr Garland emptied a leather bag packed with approximately 80,000 dollars of counterfeit US notes onto a bed for 30,000 dollars in genuine notes. Two months later, the pair met in the Savoy Hotel in Moscow, where between 160,000 dollars and 180,000 dollars of counterfeit US currency was handed over, it is claimed.
Garland, of Beldonstown, Brownstown, Navan, Co Meath, was a former IRA leader in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was a key figure in securing the Official IRA Ceasefire of May 1972. He was initially arrested by the Police Service of Northern Ireland on foot of an extradition warrant by the US authorities in October 2005 at the Workers' Party annual conference in Belfast. He fled to the republic when released on bail.
He was later arrested outside the Workers' Party in Dublin in January 2009 and released on strict bail conditions, which included surrendering the title deeds to his family home.
Barristers for Garland maintained the pensioner should not be extradited as the alleged offence happened in Ireland and was based on hearsay. The extradition hearing before Mr Justice John Edwards is listed for four days.