Ex IRA members jailed for tobacco scam

TWO former IRA members have been sentenced to jail for laundering profits from tobacco smuggling through property purchases.

Leonard Hardy and Donna Maguire – who were dubbed the Angel of Death – were jailed for two years by the High Court in Madrid for the scheme.

The court heard that until the time of his arrest in 2014, Leonard Hardy was engaged in “large-scale tobacco smuggling as the head of an organisation,” which started operating in 2005 and began to be investigated by the UK customs service in 2010 in Operation Bayweek.

The judgement said: “The accused, either directly, or together with his wife (…), either using her, or the Vinnea company, concealed the profits made from the smuggling of tobacco by laundering it in real estate investments.” Vinnea was an import/export business run by Maguire.
The judgement noted that the known income of the couple could not explain how they managed to spend €987,410 on three properties, one in Alicante and the other two in Malaga.
As well as the prison sentence the court ordered the seizure of the properties, or assets and cash of an equivalent value if they had been sold on.

The properties involved are a house in Orihuela (Alicante), one in Nerja and a commercial property in Manilva (both Malaga).

Leonard Hardy was arrested in a hotel in Lanzarote with his wife, Donna Maguire, at the end of 2014.
Spanish authorities said in a January 2015 statement: “National Police officers have smashed an organisation involved in smuggling tobacco and alcohol.

“Among those arrested are the organisation’s alleged ringleader and his wife, both ex-IRA members.”

Hardy, from Belfast, was sentenced to six years prison for trying to blow up a British Army base at Osnabruck, Germany in 1989.

He was released because the offence happened before the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Macguire, who was once the most wanted woman in Britain, was handed a nine-year sentence in Germany in 1995 after being found guilty of attempted murder and explosives offences in connection with the attack. She was released because she had spent six years on remand.

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