Examination of Witness (Questions 1 -
WEDNESDAY 16 JANUARY 2002
1. Mr White, good afternoon and thank you for
coming. We understand that your boss is not well.
(Mr White) He is I think suffering somewhat from a
little bit of exhaustion.
2. I am not surprised. Please give him our best
wishes and say that we quite understand that he has not been able
to make it today.
(Mr White) I will indeed.
3. Can I start off with the baseline as it were
and that is the paramilitaries' requirement for money. How much
do they need, the various groups, in order to operate, and how
much, in so far as you know, do they actually have? I realise
this is not an exact science but I think you will have a pretty
(Mr White) I think I can echo your sentiments. It
is not an exact science by any means. Over the years we have sought
to monitor the amounts of money that each of the organisations
has a requirement for. Each organisation in itself is differently
structured and therefore its means of raising money and spending
money are separate entities in their own right. The main organisation
is the Provisional IRA. The figure there we estimate at this moment
in time is that it has a capacity to raise between five and eight
million pounds a year for funding its needs, but by no means is
it expending five to eight million pounds a year. The running
costs of the organisation in a sense in terms of wages only amount
to about a quarter of a million pounds. Obviously you could ask
the question, what happens to the remaining money? Behind the
actual expenditure, which really only goes to those at brigade
level and GHQ level, your average brigade officer gets something
in the region of £250 to £450 a month.
4. Have the operating costs gone significantly
down since the release of the prisoners who were presumably all
being financially supported?
(Mr White) Yes. That aspect has disappeared to some
degree in terms of the money that would have gone towards some
of the prisoners and prisoners' families. Like all organisations,
it has actually cost cut in that it no longer pays money to volunteers
because it deems them not to be on active service, so they do
not get the handouts that they would have got in the past. Behind
the infrastructure of the organisation there are substantial costs
in the sense that the organisation itself runs a fair number of
motor vehicles which are purchased for the more important members
and it invests fairly heavily in the properties that it has in
the form of the pubs and the clubs. There is an outgoing in relation
to those activities. In that sense each brigade has a capacity
to be somewhat self-financing, having something in the region
of £30,000 as a sort of float upon which they can call to
support the activity that they may be engaged in. An organisation
such as RIRA, being much smaller, has estimated running costs
in the region of £350,000 and by and large, not being structured
as the PIRA is structured, it raises its money more or less as
it requires it from fuel smuggling, from cigarette smuggling and
such things of that nature. CIRA, being a smaller organisation
than that, is £25,000 to £30,000.
5. The Real IRA get most of their income from
smuggling fuel and tobacco?
(Mr White) By and large that is the organisational
structure. You will recall in recent weeks that a seizure was
made at Warrenpoint where there was something in the region of
42.6 million cigarettes recovered; that was the largest UK seizure
ever. There were also 12 million seized in North Yorkshire. They
import what is called raw spirit from the Eastern Bloc countries.
This gets itself reconstituted as vodka and then gets itself sold
on the market. There were two bottling plants. The one in Pennistern
in Yorkshire which had a capacity of 18,000 litres, was closed
down, as was the one in Coalisland in the Washing Bay area, which
had a capacity of about 26,200 litres.
6. And we are still talking just about the Real
(Mr White) Just about the Real IRA. Obviously the
seizure there of industrial alcohol being made in Portadown indicates
again the nature by which they fund themselves. From all that
activity we reckon they have a potential profit of about five
million pounds. Again, with regard to expenditure against income
there is a substantial difference in favour of the profit. On
the INLA, we would say that that is an organisation with financial
difficulties at the moment. It is requiring about £25,000
to £30,000 a year to basically fund itself, and again they
indulge themselves in something of the cigarette smuggling and
activity relative to the drugs aspect, but again resorting most
likely to robberies in their case to raise what funds they require.
They are however in financial difficulties from our intelligence
picture. On the other side of the house, the UDA, the UFF, their
need for financing would be in the region of £250,000 a year,
but again being totally different in terms of its financial structure.
A lot of that money is actually raised in each of the brigade
areas and, peculiar from the other organisations, the UDA levies
a subscription on its own membership for being members of the
organisation, so they have to contribute from the point of view
of being a member.
7. How much do they have to contribute?
(Mr White) It is a small sum. It is more of a token
issue as such but it covers their local costs as they would see
it. It is a hangover from their heyday when there were very substantial
numbers within the organisation. Again they would generate a lot
of the money from drug dealing, again very much depending on the
attitude of the local brigadier as to how that drug dealing gets
itself carried through, and counterfeit goods and such like form
a good bit of their money. The UVF's running costs, the last organisation,
would be again about a quarter of a million pounds.
8. You mentioned money from drugs only in the
context of INLA and the UDA. Have I got that right?
(Mr White) The aspect of drugs would probably be much
more apparent in terms of the Loyalist organisations, the LVF,
the UDA, the UFF, INLA and to a degree RIRA. PIRA is still very
much presenting itself as a defender of its community. This creates
a bit of a dichotomy if it lets its members deal in drugs. You
will recall that there is the organisation known as DAAD, Direct
Action Against Drugs, which is a PIRA group. It is another nom
de guerre as it were that the PIRA would use in dealing with
drug dealers, but it has been responsible for around 14-odd deaths
in the Province of people that were deemed to be dealing in drugs.
It has set its face by and large against the drug aspect and more
or less confines its activities to the more lucrative fuel smuggling
and counterfeit goods aspects.
9. What you are saying is that the major organisations
have got substantial reserves.
(Mr White) Indeed.
10. Who keeps that?
(Mr White) There is not what you would call a financial
infrastructure such as one would expect to find in any large organisation.
The best way I can describe it is if you are familiar with the
Hawalla system, the underground banking system where money in
a sense does not rest in any financial institution such as a bank
or building society under a recognised title which is "Provisional
IRA" or whatever. The money that they raise is actually given
to people who are in business, if you were a business individual
with Republican sympathies, anything up to a quarter or half a
million pounds, depending obviously on the size of your business,
could be lodged with you with the view that as and when required
it can be drawn down. There is no money sitting accredited to
personnel who are recognised members of the Provisional IRA. The
money is outsourced, it is hidden in building societies, it can
be hidden as it were in investment bonds, it can be in insurance
bonds, and it can be hidden in company accounts so that simply
by raising a false invoice I could receive from you £100,000
if I needed it tomorrow, and the false invoice within the company
accounts would basically be the means of doing that. They have
developed that over 20 or 30 years by using the same people by
and large within the financial infrastructure. In that sense it
defeats a lot of the efforts that we can make at this moment in
time as traditionally we have gone looking where one would expect
money to be and that is within banking institutions, building
societies and elsewhere.
11. Do you know who these people are who are
receiving money on behalf of the paramilitaries?
(Mr White) We have indications from intelligence who
some of those people are but by no means is it complete.
12. If you have the evidence do you have sufficient
legal means to relieve them of it?
(Mr White) A good few are not within the jurisdiction
of Northern Ireland and we are dependent on the reaction of other
jurisdictions, namely the Southern government and through CAB,
to try and get at these people. If it is hidden and hidden fairly
well within company accounts, as you will appreciate, it is extremely
difficult to identify as money being held on behalf of a paramilitary
13. Have you ever succeeded in persuading the
Garda, the organ of the Government of the Republic, to take action
against one of these bankers?
(Mr White) We have in that our best success recently
has been against the bureaux de changes. We have a multimillion
pound investigation ongoing with the Garda into several bureaux
de changes where money has been laundered through those accounts.
We are very hopeful in respect of major prosecutions in those
14. That is a slightly different matter, is
it not, money in and out, changing currencies, from people who
are as it were acting as bankers, the businessmen you were talking
(Mr White) Through the bureaux de changes you can
act very successfully as a banker in the sense that you have fairly
large sums of money always on deposit in different accounts and
this is where they have succeeded in putting substantial sums
of money away. In that sense we have been able to foreclose on
that * * *
15. You have not mentioned fund raising overseas.
(Mr White) Fund raising overseas, whilst it was at
one stage a fairly lucrative means of the organisation getting
their money, due to the pressures of the US Treasury Department,
with whom we work fairly closely, that by and large has been tidied
up in terms of the accounts being maintained by friends of PIRA.
The RIRA and other smaller organisations have not got the financial
foothold in the USA that PIRA has had. That is not to say that
there is not a substantial sum of money which comes directly in
suitcases or in people's pockets back into Ireland and into accounts
that way, but by and large the US authorities, with all credit
to them, are fairly vigilant in that area and keep us well informed
of the checks that they make on the various accounts there, although
it is by no means a watertight situation.
The Reverend Martin Smyth
16. I want to take you back to the comments
about PIRA and the drug problem. There are those who perceive
that Direct Action Against Drugs developed for two reasons: one,
to show themselves whiter than white, but more particularly to
actually deal with those who had hitherto been providing funds
for them through the use of drugs and when the so-called peace
came they were holding more back. Particularly that was found
in Dublin and led to several murders there. How far are you convinced
that PIRA are as clean as the impression I got from your earlier
response about being involved in drugs?
(Mr White) I would not wish to give the impression
that they were by any means clean. What you had happening with
PIRA, not wishing directly through members to dirty their hands,and
you will recall that Provisional Sinn Fein member in Derry who
did get himself too close to the scene and the embarrassment that
that causedthey have either levied charges on drug dealers
or alternatively have franchised areas in which drug dealing is
allowed to take place, thus never handling the drugs themselves
but regulating the market in a sense where that has taken place.
Yes, you are quite right: there has been punishment of those who
have sought to infringe on that market or who have refused to
play ball in terms of making sums of money available to those
within PIRA. I was speaking in terms of the organisation's philosophy
as a whole. By no means do the activities of each member hold
true to the organisation's philosophy.
17. I appreciate the problem of identifying
some of this clearly when the Colombian business actually broke
and it was disowned as being part of Sinn Fein.
(Mr White) Yes.
18. My response was that they are acting as
a government-in-waiting and they disown any of their secret service
working when they are caught. Is there any link in trade in drugs
to help finance issues and the providing of intelligence and training
in using some of those devastating bombs for urban terrorism?
That has been one of the things that has come through at different
times from some of our friends in the States.
(Mr White) Is this on the FARC subject?
(Mr White) No. The picture we have on the intelligence
side in relation to FARC would be very much focussed on the exchange
of bomb-making technology. FARC have developed and have been using
very substantial numbers in excess of 10,000-odd of their mortar-type
devices, the "barrack buster" being the local name given
to those devices. The sophistication of their firing mechanisms
has not taken them beyond the point of their operational need
in that they take over and hold the area in which they are operating
and then seek to ignite these devices with a fairly crude detonation
system. FARC had a desire to take its activities into the more
urban areas of Colombia where the legitimate government was in
strength and there was this desire for an upgrading of the devices.
PIRA had that technology in that it had developed the initiation
devices that allowed such items to be placed and then remotely
fired. That was an exchange part. The other part of FARC that
the PIRA were interested in was in the development of air bombs
as they call them. The contents of those are simply a mixture
of petrol with what you would call common-or-garden glue. The
two things combined can create a very significant firebomb. You
will appreciate that that means you do not need explosives of
any nature and if you can fire that sort of device into any enclosed
scene such as police stations or military establishments, that
is a tremendously effective tool. All the focus that was going
on and we still believe is going on in that area is in this development
of the technology and the exchange of information in that respect,
not at all focussed from anything we have at this moment that
would point us in any way towards the drugs issues.