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Sentence for money-laundering ‘invoice redirect fraud’ was not unduly lenient

By: Bakshi Mohit BL

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Court of Appeal dismisses application for review for undue leniency of a sentence of five years imprisonment with 18 months suspended, where the accused had been engaged in 'invoice redirect fraud' as part of a money-laundering organisation, on the grounds that, especially in light of the sentencing judge’s margin of appreciation, the final sentence did not reach the threshold for establishing undue leniency.

McCarthy J: Criminal Law – review on the grounds of undue leniency of a sentence – guilty plea – participation in the activity of a criminal organisation and money laundering – headline sentence of seven years identified – post-mitigation sentence of 5 years imprisonment with 18 months suspended – Garda National Economic Crime Bureau had become aware of an emerging trend of bank accounts opened in Italian names in Ireland with these accounts receiving large amounts of money from suspect invoice re-direct frauds worldwide – redirect fraud occurs where a company receives an email purported to be from a legitimate supplier and says that their bank account number had changed and gives a new bank account number – well over €1 million had been stolen and laundered through these accounts – respondent identified as part of a greater investigation involving other people – home of respondent was searched and cash to the sum of €9750 was seized – mobile phone was seized which had a number of pictures of Italian ID cards of other persons of interest who had opened accounts – a total of €200,019.65 had been lodged into all the accounts associated with the respondent of which €138,573.50 was withdrawn within days of the lodgements - €61,446.15 was the subject of recalls to the remitting bank where fraud had been identified – sentencing judge noted that while it didn’t appear as if the respondent had any role in the invoice redirection and didn’t appear to be one of the principle beneficiaries, he provided a vital facility to organised criminals and was certainly playing a vital role in relation to realising the proceeds of the criminal conduct of other persons further up the chain – whether the imposition of a five-year sentence with final eighteen suspended was unduly lenient – whether the judge erred in law and in principle in fixing a headline sentence of seven years for offences of money laundering and participation in a criminal organisation in light of the aggravating factors – whether judge erred in law and in principle in placing undue weight on the mitigating factors and personal circumstances of the respondent – whether judge erred in law and in principle in placing undue weight on the most significant factor which was the plea of guilty – whether judge erred in law and in principle, having found that the offences merited headline sentences of seven years, in reducing the effective sentence to be served of one of five years with eighteen months suspended, which resulted in a 50% discount in the effective sentence served – whether judge erred in law and in principle in suspending the final eighteen months of the sentence – considerable overlap amongst the grounds of appeal and dealt with together – due weight may not have been given to the factors in mitigation – such a significant part of the sentence should not have been suspended – final result, especially in light of judge’s margin of appreciation, did not reach the threshold for undue leniency – application for undue leniency dismissed.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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