Wheels come off launderer Thomas Rooney’s chauffeur business as CAB seizes high-end vehicle

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This is the amazing fleet of Mercedes built by mafia convict Thomas Rooney as he invested over £120,000 in cars for his fledgling chauffeur business.

Accounts filed for Rooney’s ‘EBT Executive Travel’ show the father-of-four’s decision to ‘go all out’ put him under significant financial pressure from the start – and left him facing debts of more than €140,000 after only 12 months of activity.

Yet jailed Rooney now has one less luxury vehicle to tax and insure after the Special Criminal Court ordered the confiscation of a £50,000 Mercedes S-Class, which he used instead of driving. a “banger” while laundering €600,000 in cash from organized crime.

In company documents obtained by the Sunday World show, Drogheda man Rooney, who is serving a six-year sentence for laundering money for Mafia Thomas Maher on an ‘industrial scale’, has built up a fleet of high-end vehicles after registering the EBT Executive Travel company on January 16, 2018.

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Some of the premium vehicles Rooney bought to grow his business

Some of the premium vehicles Rooney bought to grow his business

In its first full year in business, Rooney’s business had a Mercedes S-Class for weddings, an E-Class for corporate events and an eight-seater Mercedes V-Class.

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Thomas Rooney (41) PIC: Collins Courts


Thomas Rooney (41) PIC: Collins Courts

Thomas Rooney (41) PIC: Collins Courts

Vowing to provide the people of Drogheda with a high-end yet affordable chauffeur service, the imprisoned criminal highlighted his humble origins as a well-made ‘local boy’ when he started the business.

He described himself on the company’s website as the son of a local woman who started a society for the deaf and as someone who was “passionate about keeping all my stuff local”.

Sources said this week that EBT’s lightning entry into the industry, competing for VIP travelers at airports, corporate events, weddings and high-end sightseeing, has raised some eyebrows. of the sector.

However, his competitors never suspected for a second that the genius man from Drogheda would become a key cog in the money laundering operation of an organized crime mob, later linked to the Kinahan Cartel.

One of the main costs for Rooney in the first 12 months of trading was a €72,000 loan he took out to buy his Mercedes S-Class – the vehicle he would eventually be caught laundering money. money from the crowd in just 18 months after filing that troubling first set of accounts.

And it is this vehicle that the State saw fit to confiscate and hand over to CAB for resale last week.

Granting the forfeiture order for S350, Judge Tony Hunt noted that Rooney had used the car to transport the cash in what was an “industrial scale money laundering” operation.

Judge Hunt said Rooney should be seen as having accepted the risk his conduct posed and could not signal to other criminals that they could use their own assets for such criminal enterprises without impunity.

He therefore ordered the confiscation order requested by the State.

Judge Hunt previously remarked that Rooney would have been better off using a ‘cheap banger from Done Deal’ rather than the ‘high-end’ Mercedes in question.

Rooney (52), of Betaghstown, Bettystown, Co Meath, pleaded guilty last year to offenses under Section 7 of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 .

He was found in possession of €289,770 and £65,025 (€77,000) in felony cash in a blue Nike holdall at the Spar car park, Donore Road, Drogheda on May 11, 2020.

Described as a “mid to high level” member of the gang, Rooney also pleaded guilty to possession of €254,840 in a black tote bag in Donore Road and possession of €7,650 in North Road, Drogheda, at the same date.

A subsequent search of his home uncovered an encrypted Aquarius phone along with fake designer bags, luxury watches and two signal blockers. Rooney was sentenced to six years in prison by the three-judge tribunal in January this year.

Gardai also seized the black Mercedes S350 that Rooney used in his limo business.

Garret Baker BL previously told the court that the state was seeking forfeiture of the Mercedes, which was in the possession of Rooney’s chauffeur services company EBT Executive Travel Limited, as the defendant admitted counting €7,650 in cash of crime in a vehicle wrap.

The attorney said Rooney also sent coordinating text messages from a phone plugged into the car.

Mr Baker said if someone is ‘scolded’ for the offense in question, the consequences can ‘go beyond individual liberty’ and the state’s request was a ‘legitimate request to be made if people engage with criminally generated obscene amounts of money”.

Since Rooney’s arrest and conviction, a Sunday World investigation has found that his laundering activities were linked to a major drug trafficking ring between Ireland and the Netherlands.

Rooney set times and places to move huge sums of money and had an encrypted phone used only by senior members of the gang.

He was part of the criminal network run by rogue transporter Thomas Maher of Clara, Co Offaly, who is currently serving a 14-year sentence in the UK.

Rooney is the third person to be convicted for the cash link to Maher who transported cocaine from the Netherlands to Ireland via the UK.

Maher, who also had an address in Warrington, ran a money laundering and drug trafficking operation and worked with other criminal groups, including the Kinahan Cartel.

He has been involved in organized crime for more than two decades and was also arrested by British police investigating the deaths of 29 Vietnamese migrants in a container truck in Essex in 2019 but was later released without charge.

As he was questioned after being discovered with the money, Rooney told Gardaí that Covid-19 had put his driver business ‘in the trash’ and that it was ‘dumb’ to also involve his partner Catherine Dawson, a healthcare worker.

Dawson, who received a suspended sentence, “had nothing to do with it,” he insisted.

He also told gardaí that he would only get €1,200 for moving the money and that he feared for his life.

The third person convicted of carrying money, Jason Reed, was a volunteer with a soup run in Dublin but also a high-trust member of the Kinahan Cartel and was jailed for seven years in July 2020.

Reed (40) had pleaded guilty to money laundering and possession of proceeds of crime of nearly €400,000 in Drogheda.

Rooney and his partner Catherine Dawson continue to be listed as directors of EBT Executive Travel Limited on the Companies Registry.

A website for EBT Executive Travel is still online, but the number listed for reservations is no longer active.

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