A €600,000 sum is to go to the State as part of a settlement of High Court proceedings taken by the Criminal Assets Bureau against companies in the international payment processing group PacNet over alleged processing of the proceeds of direct mail fraud.
The settlement also involves Cab consenting to the lifting of a freezing order previously granted over three residential properties and a substantial sum in pension and investment policies here.
PacNet denied any wrongdoing, Mr Justice Alexander Owens was told on Thursday by barrister Shelley Horan, for CAB, when she informed the judge the long running proceedings had settled.
There were two settlement agreements and a side letter before the court related to two separate Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings, dating to 2018 and 2019, which were linked and managed together, counsel outlined.
The 2018 proceedings were against PacNet Services Ltd, PacNet Holdings Ltd, the Payments Factory Ltd and Robert Paul Davis, a former executive of PacNet.
Mr Davis (66), a British national with an address in Ballycasey, Shannon for a time but who now lives in the Isle of Man, was in 2019 separately charged, along with three other executives of PacNet Services, by the US authorities in connection with an alleged scheme to money launder tens of millions of euro made from mass-mail fraud campaigns.
In the Irish High Court case, Ms Horan said the 2018 Cab proceedings concerned alleged proceeds of crime money in 19 bank accounts and a significant sum of cash seized at Shannon Airport.
Cab’s case was that Pacnet had processed the proceeds of direct mail fraud through its various companies across the world, she said. Pacnet denies any wrongdoing and the parties had agreed certain orders would be made in the 2018 case, counsel outlined.
Those orders included agreement that €600,000 in a bank account here — frozen by court order since 2018 — would be released to Cab, she said. That account holds about $955,000 (€932,000) and the agreement provides €600,000 is to be released and the remainder is to go to the appropriate respondent, Ms Horan outlined.
There was also consent to orders appointing Cab’s legal officer as receiver over the €600,000 sum and allowing the funds be remitted to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
Mr Justice Owens received the settlement, said it would be made a rule of court and noted the undertakings given by the various parties.
The second case, Ms Horan said, was by CAB against Robert Paul Davis, Monica Bottcher — described by the US government in 2016 as a managing partner of PacNet Brazil — and Pacnet Holdings Ltd.
Ms Horan said the 2019 case concerned residential properties as well as investment and pension policies also alleged to represent the proceeds of crime from the same alleged direct mail fraud activity.
Counsel reiterated the respondents deny those activities. In consideration of the settlement reached in the 2018 case, there was consent to the release of an order which had frozen the relevant properties and the policies. The effect is the three properties and policies, described as having a substantial value, are returned to the appropriate respondents, the court heard.
Ms Horan told the judge, in the side letter before the court, Mr Davis disavows any interest in any of the properties
The judge received and noted that settlement and said he would make an order releasing the properties and policies.
David Staunton BL, for the respondents, thanked the judge and said Ms Horan had very fairly outlined the position.
The judge told counsel he noted the respondents, in all of the litigation involving them, “do not feel they are responsible for any wrongdoing”.
Mr Staunton said Ms Horan had “very fairly set that out for the avoidance of any doubt”.
In September 2016, PacNet was accused of being involved in a mail fraud scam in America and was listed by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as a ‘significant transnational criminal organisation’ with a history of global money laundering and fraud.
Canadian-based PacNet Services Ltd denied the allegations and, in October 2017, it was removed from the OFAC list. A number of investigations were initiated in various jurisdictions, including Ireland.
In 2019, the US Department of Justice announced criminal charges accusing Mr Davis (66), who ran PacNet’s office in Shannon between 2001-2016, and three other former executives of PacNet Services Ltd — PacNet’s founder Rosanne Day (54), Genevieve Renee Frappier (52) and Miles Kelly (58), — of operating “the payment processor of choice” for companies that mailed large volumes of fraudulent notifications to victims, including elderly and “vulnerable” people.
The four have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and multiple counts of mail fraud and wire fraud.
It is alleged PacNet processed on average more than $100 million a year in the last five years it was in operation.