A High Court judge has ruled that 84 motor vehicles and a trailer seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau from a motor dealer’s yard in Co Tipperary represent, directly or indirectly, the proceeds of crime.
Mr Justice Alexander Owens made a similar finding concerning a sum of €153,000 in a car dealing company's bank account in Tralee, Co Kerry, controlled by a Lithuanian businesswoman, Agne Khan, and her brother in law, Jawad Khan.
The judge concluded, from evidence presented by CAB, that Agne Khan and her husband Khurran Khan, who live in the West Midlands in England, were “at the heart of very large mandate frauds” and others, such as Jawad Khan, were employed in motor dealership businesses used to launder proceeds.
It is clear the frauds have enriched the Khans by some €3.5 million and large elements of personal and business assets under their control are derived from these frauds, he said.
Proceeds of fraud
He concluded proceeds of those frauds had been introduced into their motor dealerships in both England and Ireland for purchase of motor vehicles.
Transactions under which the proceeds of mandate frauds were introduced to buy vehicles which ended up with the motor dealing firm Autology, trading as Autopace, based in Co Tipperary and another company, SJK, which earlier traded from the same address “do not accord with any honest or normal method of introducing capital into a business”, he said.
In a judgment this week, the judge granted CAB’s application for orders, under section 3 of the Proceeds of Crime Act, declaring the 84 vehicles, the trailer and the €153,000 as representing directly or indirectly the proceeds of crime.
He made orders prohibiting Autology Ltd, trading as Autopace, with registered offices at Unit 1, Ballywilliam, Carrigatoher, Nenagh; Ms Khan, listed as the 100 per cent holder of issued shares in Autology and listed as a director of it between May 2019 and April 2020; and any other person with notice of the order, from dealing with or disposing of the money or the vehicles.
The judge said Agne Khan and her brother-in-law, Jawad Khan controlled the Autology bank account at Bank of Ireland, Tralee. Jawad Khan is married to Simona Khan, who became company secretary of Autology around April 2020.
Agne Khan and Simona Khan are originally from Lithuania and Agne Khan is married to Khurran Khan, he said. Khurran Khan had taken control of Autology from September 2018 which began trading in used motor vehicles under the name Autopace.
SJK Wholesale Ltd, another motor dealing company controlled by the Khans, previously traded from the Ballywilliam premises but ceased trading in late 2018 after tax irregularities were uncovered in a Revenue investigation, he said.
The Khans "walked off" from SJK, taking with them trading proceeds and left behind a SJK unpaid VAT liability of more than €623,000.
He was satisfied the business affairs of SJK were controlled by Khurran Khan and a business associate.
Agne and Khurran Khan have “a track record of significant criminal activity involving fraud”, he said. The evidence established these Khans controlled Autology and a number of other companies and unincorporated business entities in Ireland and England
He said members of this Khan family were arrested in England in September 2020 and premises in England and Ireland were searched, including the motor dealer’s yard at Ballywilliam and houses at Slate Quarry, Tipperary and Killaloe, Co Clare. Some 89 vehicles and a trailer were seized in Ireland, but five were not associated with the Khans and were handed back to their owners.
The seizures related to investigations of complicated mandate frauds in which money was stolen and then laundered. In ten linked frauds investigated in ‘Operation Brasenose’, more than €1.3 million was stolen, he said. In another series of frauds concerning the NHS and investigated in ‘Operation Kangchenjunga’, more than €900,000 was stolen, he said.
During the police investigation of these crimes, further mandate frauds were identified, he added.
The judge found CAB had established, to the requisite standard of proof, that funding for stock in trade and business operations of Autology was sourced in proceeds of mandate frauds perpetrated by the Khans and their associates There is “cogent evidence” the Khans and their associates received substantial benefit from mandate frauds.
He said proceeds of these frauds were used to fund business activities of the Khans in England and Ireland and were laundered by being introduced into business operations to buy cards from British car auctions. The cars were then sold off through second hand motor dealers controlled by the Khans in England and Ireland, he said.