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Nero Drinks, a suspected front to launder money for the Kinahan crime gang, faces being struck off
US sanctioned Nero Drinks, the company allegedly used by Johnny Morrissey and his wife Nicola to fund their ‘Rolls Royce lifestyle’ in Spain is broke and on the “brink of collapse”, it has been claimed.
The firm, named by Spanish police as a suspected front to launder money for the Kinahan crime gang faces being struck off by the UK Government directory Companies House due to overdue payments, Scottish media have reported.
The firm, established in 2018 to make Nero Premium Vodka, is owned by Glasgow-based Nicola Morrissey.
The 47-year-old was arrested alongside husband Johnny Morrissey in Marbella, Spain, in September as part of an investigation into the Kinahans.
Financial statements obtained last September showed that the company was drowning in debt to the tune of €310,000.
As of February 2021, Nero Drinks was surviving on six figure loans from the bank and company director Nicola Morrissey – while it had cash reserves of just €3,522.
A trawl of the company’s financial documents has also uncovered links between Nero Drinks and an offshore company based in Gibraltar, Emperor Una Limited, which again counts among its directors’ Nicola Morrissey.
Kinahan cartel money launderer Johnny Morrissey, who was arrested in Spain last week, is not linked through company documents to either Nero Drinks or Emperor Una Limited.
However, the US government has alleged that he handed a significant ownership stake in Nero Drinks to cartel head Daniel Kinahan as compensation for failed drug shipments.
In a raft of sanctions announced by the US Department of Treasury in April, the DOT alleged Nero Drinks “was designated (sanctioned) for being owned or controlled by, directly or indirectly, John Morrissey.
“John Morrissey,” it continued, “who outwardly serves as the Nero Drinks’ brand ambassador, is heavily invested in Nero Drinks and has given a significant portion of the business to Daniel Kinahan to compensate for loads of drugs seized by law enforcement.
“John Morrissey controls and operates Nero Drinks through his wife, the primary shareholder, who is used as a frontperson for his interests.”
The value of Nero Drinks to the Kinahan cartel is not apparent from the documents filed by Nicola Morrisey with the UK company’s office.
But, according to an investigation funded by the European Union, the Kinahan cartel used dozens of front companies, stretching across the globe, to help move heroin, cocaine and other drugs and launder the proceeds from their sale.
Operating out of a listed address at 9 Newton Place, Glasgow, Nero Drinks most recent accounts were filed on February 28th, 2021.
The accounts how the company had debts to the tune of UK£272,180 (€311,711).
These debts included a bank loan of UK£172,861 (€197,967) and a further loan of UK£99,319 (€113,744) from company director Nicola Morrissey.
Meanwhile, the company’s cash-flow provided little in the way of hope that such debts would ever be repaid.
Cash at the hand and in the bank held by Nero Drinks had increased by just UK£1,805 (€2,067) in the previous twelve months.
Emperor Una meanwhile has fared little better.
The company was set up in Gibraltar on March 2nd of 2018, with an address at 292 Main St and was initially listed as the sole shareholder in Nero Drinks.
Although an annual return for the company was filed in 2020, no financial details were contained therein.
The company was struck off by the Gibraltar company office on April 29th of 2022, less than three weeks after Nero Drinks and Johnny Morrissey were sanctioned, for failing to file annual returns.
Despite, these documents revealing the perilous state of Nero Drink’s finances, only last year Nicola Morrissey held it out as a highly successful venture – so successful in fact she planned on expanding its activities into the US.
In the interview, she boasted that 2022 would see Nero Drinks ‘adding more to our client list as well as launching in Mallorca, Tenerife, the UK and we are finalising plans to launch in America.’
She added: “We are also opening an exclusive 5-star wellness retreat overlooking the sea in La Cala … due to open in April 2022.”
This was to be the same month husband Johnny Morrissey and Nero Drinks were sanctioned – leaving her ambitious and financially inexplicable plans in tatters