15 February 2006

Farmer to give up loan to ARA

Belfast Telegraph

By Deborah McAleese
15 February 2006

An Ulster farmer who received a loan from murdered millionaire loyalist James Johnston today agreed to hand over £45,000 to the Assets Recovery Agency.

Ignatius Geddis, from Belfast Road in Bangor, volunteered to hand over the cash, as well as an Isuzu Trooper vehicle belonging to Johnston.

The ARA has now agreed not to pursue civil recovery proceedings and has stressed that there are no allegations of money laundering against Mr Geddis.

Mr Geddis, who recently sold a scrapyard at picturesque Helen's Bay in a reported multi-million pound deal, borrowed money from Former Red Hand Commando chief Jim 'Jonty' Johnston in 1999.

Johnston (45) was hit 11 times when two gunmen opened fire at his plush home on the Ballyrobert Road in Crawfordsburn on May 8, 2003.

Following his death his properties became the subject of Assets Recovery Agency proceedings and in 2004 the ARA obtained the UK's first £1m plus recovery order after alleging in the High Court that Johnston's assets were the proceeds of drug trafficking.

Alan McQuillan, ARA assistant director, today said: "Criminals will attempt to hide cash which is derived from criminal activities in a number of ways.

"One of these is to make loans to other people. It is important that everyone realises the Proceeds of Crime Act means we can come after such loans and seek to recover them."

Mr Geddis had for many years been at the centre of a long-running dispute over a dump on property at Helen's Bay.

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