A businessman has been convicted of money laundering at Kilkenny Circuit Court.
Bartholomew Ohanya, 42 Carin na Rí, Singland Road, Limerick, pleaded guilty to the charge.
The offence was discovered as gardaí investigated a report a lady in Spain had been deceived of €126,650.
Gardaí examined the accounts of the man who deceived her and could clearly see the money coming in. They could also see transfers from the man to Mr Ohanya. Between June 25, 2018, and September 4, 2018, there were five electronic transfers totalling €21,000. They also saw €25,000 in 14 cash lodgements from the man.
Mr Ohanya was an agent for several money transfer agencies. The other man was his customer and lodged money to be transferred to the UK. He was a customer for two or three years. Mr Ohanya believed they had become friends.
Mr Ohanya told gardaí he transferred €9,000 to Belgium for the man, and made two transfers to Germany, of €4,000 and €6,000.
Judge James McCourt heard the defendant is in his 50s, from Nigeria and a naturalised Irish citizen. He runs a business with his wife in Limerick and they have five children. He is a leader in the Nigerian community in the West of Ireland.
Mr Ohanya’s trust was gained and he allowed himself to be used in a reckless manner. “He is at a loss what went on,” his barrister said.
The judge heard Mr Ohanya is at low risk of reoffending. He has cut all ties with the other man who had “duped” him. He had nothing to do with the initial fraud.
Judge McCourt accepted Mr Ohanya’s remorse but said there was “very significant recklessness here.”
He directed Mr Ohanya to pay compensation of €5,000 to the victim of the initial fraud, within 12 months. If paid a jail sentence of three years will be fully suspended. If not he will serve one year in prison.
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