Gardaí and trader clash over provenance of disputed €2,500

A street trader who claimed that €2,500 found in his brother’s house during a search for stolen property was his, was given a month to provide receipts and tax clearance certificates to prove this.

Sami Muntean (44 ), with an address at 121, Meadowbrook, Willow Park, Athlone, was in the District Court this week (September 25 ) to apply to the court for the return of the money which had been confiscated by gardaí following a raid on 115, Meadowbrook - his brother’s address - on August 15.

Through a translator, Mr Muntean told the court how he had entrusted the money and two pieces of his wife’s gold jewellery with his brother before travelling with her to Co Clare for a fair.

“On his return he contacted the gardaí, and they returned the jewellery, but not the money,” said his solicitor, Mr Paul Connellan.

For the State, Inspector Aidan Minnock told the court that he was not able to fully proceed with the case at that time, but could outline how the money was seized on August 15.

“Stolen goods were recovered [from 115], then the applicant [Mr Muntean] claimed the money was his, and was the proceeds of trading at fairs around the country. If he asserts the money is the proceeds of trading, then gardaí are checking with Revenue to see if proper taxes are paid,” said the inspector.

“A vicious circle,” noted Judge Seamus Hughes.

“The State’s position is that if there’s no declaration to Revenue, then we believe the money is the proceeds of crime,” he concluded.

Mr Connellan said the investigation into criminal matters “doesn’t include my client”, so the judge adjourned proceedings until October 23 “to clarify”.

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