Gardaí receive Bulgarian file on money laundering probe

26 February 2005
By Noel Baker and Caroline O’Doherty in Sofia

INVESTIGATORS in Bulgaria probing alleged IRA money laundering have sent their initial findings to the Irish authorities.
A dossier on the activities of six people who went to Bulgaria in connection with potential investments there was sent to Dublin on Thursday.

The file details the movements of Cork businessman Ted Cunningham, former trade union boss and Government aide Phil Flynn, and banker Denis O’Connell during the trip to Bulgaria at the end of January.

The names of the other three are known to the Irish Examiner but are not disclosed for legal reasons.

The Bulgarian Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) yesterday confirmed that investigators in Bulgaria are working closely with their Irish counterparts.

Agency director Dr Vasil Kirov said he was in daily contact with the head of the Garda National Bureau of Investigations, Chief Supt Austin McNally. A counter-intelligence expert from Bulgaria is in Ireland and due to present his findings to the Bulgarian government next week. Gardaí are not expected to travel to Bulgaria until their probe in Ireland is complete.

Bulgarian Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov told the Irish Examiner yesterday there was still no evidence of a “serious intention” by the IRA to buy a bank in Bulgaria. A meeting aimed at smoothing relations between Ireland and Bulgaria took place in Dublin yesterday. A delegation from the Interior Ministry met with two senior officials from the Department of Justice at the request of the Bulgarian embassy in Dublin.

Mr Petkanov earlier explained Mr Cunningham and Mr Flynn had opened two bank accounts during their January stay in Bulgaria and that €1,000 was lodged in each.

A sum of around €58,000 was paid to a law firm in Bulgaria’s second city of Plovdiv. That money was to register the Irish businessmen’s new firms in Bulgaria.

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