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A Celtic Tiger socialite arrested during a €1m heroin bust was suspected of facilitating a meeting between Irish criminals and Turkish drug traffickers.
Former restaurateur Marcus Sweeney was described this week as being “up to his oxters” in organised crime by a High Court judge.
It was also alleged he has associations to known criminals in Ireland and internationally in a case taken against him by the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab).
The court heard Sweeney was witnessed in 2019 meeting two men who were later arrested for possession of nearly €1m of heroin.
The men, UK drug dealer Kuldip Singh and Turkish heroin smuggler Ali Adnan Duran, were subsequently jailed as part of the garda investigation.
Sweeney, a former boyfriend of the late model Katy French, was also arrested by detectives from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) in relation to the heroin seizure.
Sources saidgardaí suspect he facilitated a meeting between the international drug dealers and an associate of a west Dublin crime gang.
However, he is not believed to have been directly involved in the drugs deal, and was later released without charge and has not been prosecuted as part of the investigation.
His home was one of five properties searched in May 2020, when a Range Rover, designer watches and documents were seized.
Cab brought an application this week to have lands in Co Meath linked to Sweeney’s firm, EWM Property Holdings Limited, deemed the proceeds of crime.
Mr Justice Alexander Owens said Cab made out a “very compelling case” for him to rule there was a “high degree of probability” the site at Waynestown was acquired by EWM with the proceeds of crime.
Cab alleged EWM bought the land for €102,000 using, in part, cash from unknown sources, another investment company and an innocent investor.
That money given by other investors was used for a different purpose meant the property was bought with crime proceeds, the judge said.
One of the investors, apparently a friend of Sweeney, was “taken advantage of”, with money she intended to invest redirected, he added.
The judge said the firm appeared to be involved in what he described as a “highly dubious investment scheme”.
Sweeney (45), who ran Il Pomo D’Oro on South William Street, Dublin, before a receiver was appointed in 2007, did not appear in court and was not represented during the hearing.
He is alleged to be the director and founder of EWM and Evergreen Wealth Management Limited, the latter of which accepted €721,000 of cash lodgments from unknown sources between 2014 and 2020, Cab alleged.
It was claimed Sweeney and another named individual accepted in a statement to gardaí that the source of this cash to Evergreen was not as described by the lodgment dockets.
The court was told convicted heroin dealer Brian Grendon, of Rowlagh Park, Clondalkin, Dublin, invested €20,000 in Evergreen in 2015 through his company, BG Autos.
Cab said it suspects Grendon invested significantly bigger cash amounts in Evergreen. Grendon was not a party to Cab’s proceedings.
Sweeney is also alleged to have an association with other known criminals in Ireland and abroad.
Mr Justice Owens said he had “no hesitation” in making interlocutory orders under section 3(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act of 1996 regarding the Co Meath property.
The order prohibits the respondent or any person who has notice of the order disposing of a specified property or diminishing its value.