Man avoids jail after laundering €1,500 from bank account

A judge says the state should have ‘taken its courage in its own hands’ over charges against a man he said he had to infer that gardaí believed was involved in the attempted theft of 700 000 €.

Judge Martin Nolan was speaking at the hearing on the judgment of Valentin Radu (34) for money laundering in relation to €1,500 withdrawn from a bank account in November 2020.

The largest sum had been transferred to the bank account, which belonged to someone known to Radu, earlier in the day. He said he withdrew the money for the account holder because the man did not have a face mask. He denied being involved in a criminal organization.

The defense said Radu was exploited and was more victim than guilty.

Judge Nolan said the state and court may have had suspicions, but he was confined by the plea as entered. He handed down a two-and-a-half-year suspended sentence.

Radu, of Warrenstown Place, Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty to money laundering for €1,500 at AIB Clondalkin on November 11, 2020. He has previous convictions for traffic.

Garda Ciaran Ronan told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that a solicitor had been the victim of email interception fraud and mistakenly transferred the sum of €743,000 involved in the case to the wrong AIB bank account.

Radu was not the holder of this bank account, but gardaí believes he had control over the account due to transactions such as tolls and mobile recharges related to it.

The sum of €743,000 was transferred on November 11, 2020 and there were several transactions including a withdrawal of €1,500, two withdrawals of €250 and an in-store transaction of €89. Radu was identified as the person making the withdrawals.

All the money relating to the €743,000 has been recovered, with the exception of €2,100.

Fraudulent emails

Gardaí arrested Radu and he denied any knowledge of the fraudulent emails sent to the lawyers. He admitted to knowing the owner of the bank account and explained that his salary was paid into this account, as he had no intention of remaining in Ireland,

He said he made the withdrawals from the other man’s bank account because he had a face mask and his friend did not. He gave the money to his friend who had met another individual. He said he knew nothing of the €743,000 but admitted to using the bank card.

He said he didn’t have online access to the bank account so he didn’t know how much was in it.

Radu denied being a member of a criminal organization.

Gda Ronan agreed with Luigi Rea BL, in defense, that the other man had “gone” and had not been charged with anything. He didn’t accept that the other man was “more sinister and clever”.

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Judge Nolan told Mr Rea he had to infer that gardaí believed Radu was involved in an attempted theft of €700,000.

Mr Rea said his client had been ‘totally overwhelmed’ and had not benefited.

Mr Rea said Radu was a small cog in a very big wheel. He said that Radu got involved by going to ATMs without a disguise, which was not the behavior of someone involved in a major criminal gang. He said the gardaí meant well but were wrong in their belief.

Mr Rea said Radu was more of a victim than a perpetrator after coming into contact with people craftier than him. He said Radu was exploited by the other person.