A Romanian man caught opening Irish bank accounts using fake documentation during a Europe wide police investigation into money laundering by criminal organisations has been jailed for four and a half years.
Radu Agapie (28), formerly of Timber Mills, Kilmore Road, Artane, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five counts of control of fake Polish and Hungarian identification cards, four counts of using fake documentation to open bank accounts and three counts of money laundering on dates between July 2018 and July 2019.
Agapie has ten previous convictions in Finland for falsification of documentation, forgery and laundering of proceeds of crime.
Judge Melanie Greally noted Agapie had spent a short time in prison for his previous convictions in Finland the year before these offences and then come to Ireland where he engaged in “very serious and sophisticated acts of falsification.”
She noted that the sums of money in question may not have been for his benefit but said the court had to have regard to the fact he was playing a very vital role in a larger criminal organisation.
The judge took into account that he had a cocaine addiction and was a foreign national for whom time in prison could be difficult and isolating. She noted he was making the most of his time in custody.
Judge Greally imposed concurrent sentences totalling six years imprisonment and suspended the final 18 months on conditions including that Agapie leave the country on his release and not return for a period of ten years.
Detective Garda John Carmody told Grainne O’Neill BL, prosecuting, that the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau had been working with Interpol and other agencies in a Europe wide intelligence led investigation into criminal organisations involved in money laundering and fraud.
Garda identified a number of companies which had bank accounts set up on on their behalf which they believed were being used for money laundering. Agapie was identified as a person of interest.
A number of addresses were also identified in the investigation with one at Timber Mills being used by members of the organisation as a place of residence for opening bank accounts.
A search was conducted at the Timber Mills apartment and garda recovered a “toolkit” for making false documentation and identity cards from a bedroom where they found Agapie asleep.
Gardaí seized a printer and scanner, guillotine and cutters, laminators, as well as files for plastic, glue, scissors and hair-dryer. Gardaí also recovered five identity cards in five names each bearing Agapie’s photograph.
The lease for the room in the apartment Agapie was in was not in his name and another person living in the apartment was not involved in the offending.
The court heard three bank accounts were opened using the faked documentation contained a total of €79,564 and a total of €65,660 was withdrawn. The accounts were opened face to face requiring production of documentation and proof of identification and address.
Agapie was arrested and interviewed.
Det Gda Carmody agreed with Keith Spencer BL, defending, that Agapie had been pleasant to deal with in terms of demeanour and had been in custody since the date of his apprehension.
Mr Spencer submitted that his client’s role was that of enabling and facilitating and not one of direct gain. He asked that Agapie be shown as much leniency as possible.
He said Agapie grew up in Romania where his parents were small farmers. He has worked in various locations around Europe including in a slaughterhouse in Germany and a factory in Scotland.
Counsel said Agapie became involved “in this type of conduct” and during the time of his offending was addicted to cocaine. He said his client has detoxed while in prison and has used his time in custody productively. He said Agapie was someone who wanted to put offending deep in his past.
Mr Spencer said his client did not benefit directly from money deposited in the accounts but allowed them to be used to launder they money. He submitted the offences had been committed recklessly.
He asked for the sentence to be part suspended on condition Agapie leave the country.