02 March 2006

Couple's luxury lifestyle hit as ARA freezes £3.6m assets

Belfast Telegraph

02 March 2006

A married Portadown couple have had their luxury lifestyle disrupted after £3.6m of their assets were frozen as part of an investigations into drug, fuel and cigarette smuggling.

The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) has seized assets from Mark and Beverley McKinney including property, the contents of more than 30 bank accounts and a helicopter.

The agency also seized 70 vehicles including articulated lorries, a Bentley Continental, a Jaguar X-Type and a Range Rover from the couple who own MMK International Transport.

The ARA stated in Belfast High Court that it believes Mr McKinney has used his company to smuggle drugs, fuel and cigarettes.

The agency also produced evidence that Mr McKinney has a criminal record which includes two convictions under terrorism legislation in respect of possessing and recording information likely to be of use to terrorists, and alleged in court that he has links to loyalist paramilitary organisations.

An Interim Receiver has now taken control of the assets of the McKinneys and MMK International Transport which include:

Property situated at Woodlands Manor, Portadown.

A commercial property situated at Carrickblacker Road, Portadown.

Property located at Lower Seagoe Industrial Estate, Portadown.

A caravan situated at a caravan park in Co. Down.

A large plot of land with planning permission for a substantial property at Moyallan Road, Portadown.

The contents of more than 30 bank accounts.

More than 70 vehicles, including articulated lorries, a Bentley Continental, a Jaguar X-Type, a Range Rover and a helicopter.

Under the same order, the assets of Anthony James McNeill of Selshion Parade, Portadown, were also frozen. These include property, which is valued at £60,000 gross.

In pursuing its action against McNeill, the ARA alleged in court that both he and the McKinneys were engaged in laundering in excess of £650,000, and that he has links to loyalist paramilitaries in the Portadown area.

ARA Assistant Director Alan McQuillan said: "This case was originally referred to ARA by PSNI. Our investigators have carried out a detailed examination of the affairs of the individuals involved.

"At the heart of these assets is a major road haulage business in Portadown."

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee last night, Alan McQuillan said the ARA had taken 29 cases linked to loyalist paramilitaries compared to 14 against republicans.

He said that loyalists tended to be "less sophisticated" and more motivated by personal gain.

"Among the republican paramilitaries I will find, pro rata, probably less of the assets are visible. The net overall assets may be greater but it is harder to find them," he said.

"On the loyalist side it is much more fragmented and there are a lot of people out there flaunting their wealth much more so pro rata than we have seen in republican communities."

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