26 March 2005

Bnn - Bulgarian news network

Bulgarian Probe Finds No Trace of IRA Cash Laundering

14:33 - 25.03.2005

SOFIA (bnn)- Bulgaria’s chief financial intelligence official said Friday an investigation disproved suspicions that his country was implicated in attempts at laundering Irish Republican Army cash.

“There is no evidence of Bulgaria’s involvement in such a case,” Financial Intelligence Agency Director Vasil Kirov told a news conference in Sofia.

Authorities have been checking bank accounts and contacts of Irish businessmen Phil Flynn and Ted Cunningham, who traveled Bulgaria last January.

They were suspected at home of trying to launder IRA money. Irish police have seized a cache of GBP2.5 million (EUR3.6 million / US$5 million) in a country house Cunningham owns near the city of Cork. The money was presumably part of a GBP26.5-million (EUR37.9-million / US$53-million) loot from a Belfast bank robbery last December attributed to IRA.

The probe in Bulgaria found that Flynn and Cunningham had met Deputy Minister of Finance Iliya Lingorski and expressed interest to invest in property in the Balkan country.

They lodged EUR1, 000 (some US$1, 300) each in the Sofia-based Korporativna Banka AD (Corporate Bank Plc) and paid EUR58, 000 (some US$76, 600) to lawyers in the second biggest city of Plovdiv in expenses needed to establish and register several firms.

Kirov has previously said all payments Flynn and Cunningham made in Bulgaria were part of legitimate business activities.

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