Northern Ireland news

Former Tyrone footballer Peter Loughran had up to £350,000 transferred into a bank in Dubai, court told

Former Tyrone footballer Peter Loughran

AN All-Ireland winning former Tyrone footballer charged as part of a major investigation into organised crime allegedly had up to £350,000 transferred into a bank in Dubai, the High Court has heard.

A prosecution barrister claimed sums were moved to an account Peter Loughran held in the United Arab Emirates before being used to buy property back in Northern Ireland.

Robin Steer contended: "It's essentially the definition of money laundering."

The alleged financial activity was disclosed as Loughran was granted bail on drugs charges connected to a National Crime Agency offensive targeting gangs using encrypted mobile phones.

The 45-year-old, of Tamnamore Road, Dungannon, is accused of eight offences, including conspiracy to possess and being concerned in the supply of cocaine and herbal cannabis.

Loughran, who was part of the 2003 Tyrone All-Ireland winning squad, is also charged with drugs importation and conspiracy to transfer and convert criminal property - namely cash.

The alleged offences were committed on dates between March and June this year.

He was arrested as part of Operation Venetic, the UK's biggest law enforcement crackdown on organised criminality.

More than 20 people are facing prosecution in Northern Ireland, including up to eight other defendants already released from custody.

As Loughran mounted a fresh application for bail, the court heard police have identified up to £350,000 allegedly going into his bank account in Dubai.

Mr Justice Huddleston was told it was later used for the purchase of property back in Northern Ireland.

According to defence counsel new information has confirmed those sums are no longer available to his client - ending any concerns he could use it to sustain him if released.

"We now know the money was spent," Michael Chambers said.

"The applicant has a zero balance on the account in the UAE, he can't interfere with any money."

But Mr Steer contended that Loughran should be treated differently to others identified in the investigation.

"We don't have evidence in other cases of these large sums being moved in this complex network involving other countries," he said.

Contrasting Loughran's salary with the level of alleged bank deposits, the prosecutor argued: "It simply doesn't add up."

Bail was granted, however, on condition that relatives of the accused lodge a £30,000 cash surety.

The judge also imposed a curfew, ordered Loughran to surrender any passports and banned him from leaving Northern Ireland.

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