Man played a crucial role in laundering of crime cash, court told
A 36-year-old man accused of money laundering and converting criminal property was an "important component" of a wider criminal organisation, a jury was told yesterday.
Roland Hlacs, a Hungarian national who lives in east Belfast, denies the offences and told police "my wallet was stolen ... that must have explained what has happened".
Hlacs, from Rutherglen Street, is on trial at Belfast Crown Court, where he denies the offences which date back to June 2012.
Crown prosecutor Philip Henry said that while it was not the Crown's case that Hlacs was the "criminal mastermind", he allowed his bank account to be used and for "money to flow from various accounts to those who were organising the offending".
Mr Henry addressed the jury of seven men and five women, and revealed that between June 2 and 8, 2012 an employee at the Santander call centre made eight unauthorised transfers from the accounts of two clients.
A total of £78,000 was taken from the two customers, with the money transfers made to a number of other accounts - one of which, Mr Henry said, was the Barclays Bank account of Hlacs which he had opened six months before using documents including a Hungarian identification card.
Mr Henry said that on June 7, 2012, a deposit of £10,000 was placed into Hlacs account from the account of a Santander customer, which the prosecutor said was "out of kilter" with prior activity on that account.
On the same day, Hlacs is accused of obtaining around €4,150 from the Foreign Currently counter in M&S from his Barclays account.
In order to carry out this purchase, the person doing this had to show ID, which was Hlacs Hungarian ID card.
Mr Henry revealed other smaller purchases and cash withdrawals were also made on June 7, 2012.
When Hlacs was spoken to by police, he said his wallet containing his bank card had been stolen, and that "must explain what has happened".
He has since denied the two offences against him - but Mr Henry said it was the Crown's case that "by allowing his account to be used he is guilty of the offences".
The prosecutor concluded the opening of the Crown case by saying: "This defendant is not some kind of criminal mastermind who organised this fraud, but we say he is an important component."