15 April 2005


Money laundering probe police raid UUP offices

15/04/2005 - 15:52:32

Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland

Ulster Unionist Party offices were raided today as part of a continuing police investigation into money laundering.

The party office inside the Castlereagh Borough Council office was visited.

A party spokesman said computer equipment and paper files were removed.

The home of Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland - also a member of castlereagh Council - was also raided by the police, party sources said.

A Police Service spokesman said: “As part of our investigation into money laundering police have carried out a number of searches in east Belfast and Castlereagh.

“Two Production Orders have been executed under the Proceeds of Crime Act in the Castlereagh and North Down areas.”

There have been a series of raids and arrests in east Belfast and its outskirts in the past fortnight as part of the police money laundering investigation.

Former Ulster Defence Association “godfather”, Jim Gray, 47, was the first to be arrested – just days after he was ousted as one of six so-called ruling “brigadiers”.

The flamboyant loyalist has been accused of possessing and concealing criminal property.

His girlfriend, 34-year-old Sharon Moss, has also been charged with 16 counts of money laundering.

A prominent Belfast estate agent, Philip Johnston, 39, – who runs a chain of six branches – was also charged of involvement in money laundering by the same team of detectives who charged Gray.

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