Republicans point blame at loyalists for raid

23 December 2004
By John Breslin

REPUBLICANS connected to the IRA have blamed disaffected members of the British security forces and loyalist paramilitaries for the Belfast bank raid.

An Phoblacht, the news service with an inside track on the thinking of the IRA, claimed the robbers had access to precise information on the bank's security. It also reported the gang "confidently operated with local knowledge of the County Down countryside in an area associated with unionist paramilitaries".

The report further said: "The raiders will experience considerable difficulty in capitalising on their success. The haul largely consists of cash in the North's peculiar local currency - although legal tender, is not accepted in Britain and can even be difficult to spend in the North."

Eight ways to launder £22 million

Pubs and clubs: large cash businesses. Paramilitaries have an interest in pubs throughout the island, but particularly the North. Large-scale lodgments of takings, particularly of Northern Bank notes, could lead to a suspicious transaction report (STR).

Bookies and amusement arcades: also large cash businesses, neither are required by law to report suspicious transactions. Again, paramilitaries, particularly the PIRA, would be in a much better position to successfully launder the money as they would have connections in both areas including bookies shops and on track.

Property: dealers in both jurisdictions, along with financial institutions and lawyers, are required by law to make STRs to the authorities. A crooked dealer would still have to filter the money through a financial institution at some point, thereby alerting authorities.

Banks: any large, or even small lodgements in the next few months, of Northern notes will likely trigger a suspicious transaction report. A bank official tempted to lodge money for others faces tough penalties if caught.

Smuggled out of the country: there are crooked banks in various parts of the world that take cash no questions asked. However, one risk is that someone could be caught smuggling the cash.

Spend the cash on resale goods: can only be done in relatively small amounts without raising suspicions and, if the money is split up, there's a greater possibility the weakest links will be caught.

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