Irish may try IRA veteran over North Korean scam

An Irish Republican Army veteran long accused of laundering counterfeit U.S. $100 bills on behalf of North Korea could face trial in Ireland, a Dublin judge announced Friday.

High Court Justice John Edwards said he has forwarded an evidence file to state prosecutors against Sean Garland, 76, who denies smuggling more than $250,000 worth of fake American banknotes from the North Korean embassy in Moscow in 1998.

Edwards issued his follow-up statement one month after he rejected a 6-year-old U.S. extradition warrant for Garland. The judge explained that the alleged conspiracy was concocted in part on Irish soil, therefore Garland must stand trial in Ireland, not the United States.

The judge also ordered Garland's house deeds and €75,000 ($98,000) in bail money returned to him pending any Irish decision to charge him.

In May 2005, a U.S. federal grand jury in Washington indicted Garland for allegedly dealing in North Korean “superdollars” — so called because of their exceptional high quality — and the U.S. Justice Department issued an international arrest warrant.

American officials said Garland received two loads of fake $100 bills during two 1998 trips to Moscow, when Russian interior ministry police said they tailed him traveling in North Korean diplomatic-plated cars to the North Korean embassy. Garland admitted traveling to Moscow but has denied everything else.

Officials in the Republic of Ireland took no immediate action following the American arrest demand. Instead, Garland was arrested during a rare 2005 foray into neighboring Northern Ireland, where British authorities traditionally are much more open to permitting a U.S. extradition.

However, Garland in October 2005 persuaded a Belfast judge to grant him bail to visit his home near Dublin. Weeks later, his lawyers told that court he wouldn't return.

In 2009, Garland was arrested in Dublin on the basis of the same U.S. warrant. His extradition trial was delayed to mid-2011.

Garland today remains national treasurer of the Workers Party, a fringe Marxist player in Irish politics linked to an Irish Republican Army faction called the Official IRA.

Garland was seriously wounded during a botched IRA attack on a Northern Ireland border police station in 1957. Two colleagues were killed, and he was interned without trial in the Irish Republic for two years.

When the outlawed IRA split into rival Official and Provisional factions in 1969 at the start of the modern Northern Ireland conflict, Garland served as an Official IRA commander.

He steered the Official IRA to a 1972 cease-fire. That faction then fought bloody feuds with both the Provisionals and a breakaway Official faction called the Irish National Liberation Army. The INLA shot and seriously wounded Garland in Dublin in 1975.

As Workers Party leader in 1986, Garland wrote a letter to the Communist Party of the then-Soviet Union seeking $1 million in hopes of inspiring Marxist revolution in Ireland.

The U.S. indictment and subsequent Justice Department affidavits accuse Garland of visiting the North Korean embassy in Moscow several times; of delivering superdollars to a British money-laundering contact at a Moscow hotel room in 1998; and of using other criminal contacts in Birmingham, England, and Dublin to sell the notes to Irish and English underworld contacts at less than half their face value.



Garland campaign site,

General newsGovernment and politicsnewsUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Chelsea Hung, who owns Washington Bakery and Restaurant in Chinatown with her mother, said the restaurant is only making about 30 percent of pre-pandemic revenues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chinatown’s slow recovery has business owners fearing for the future

Lack of outside visitors threatens to push neighborhood into ‘downward spiral’

San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and members of the orchestra were thrilled to be back inside Davies Symphony Hall on May 6 in a program for first responders featuring string works by Jean Sibelius, George Walker, Carl Nielsen, Caroline Shaw and Edward Grieg. (Courtesy Stefan Cohen/San Francisco Symphony)
SF Symphony makes joyful return to Davies Hall

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts program for first responders and community leaders

Students in an after-school community hub move quickly through a social circle as they play a game at the Mission YMCA on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Parents scramble for ‘Summer Together’ spaces

City program offering free camps sees high demand, confusion over enrollment

Jazz pianist and composer Jon Jang is an instructor at Community Music Center in the Mission District. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Jon Jang composes bittersweet symphonies

Musician-activist’s works are steeped in civil rights history

Calfire (Shutterstock)
Wildfires burn around Northern California during first red flag weekend of the year

Firefighters around the region battled wildfires all day Saturday, starting less than… Continue reading

Most Read