Things were looking up for Robert Burns. The chiropractor had managed to get out of the US before he could be arrested on charges of fraud in the amount of $1.9 million. Found himself a lovely place in Dublin, on Lower Camden Street, very comfortable. Then the Irish Supreme Court overturned a High Court order that would have extradited him back to the States to face trial. All was well in his world.
Problem is, to live well, one must also have money. Things like food, rent, a new pair of shoes, sure no one is actually giving that away. Mr. Burns had planned his escape from justice with care, and had deposited money in an account with the Bank of Ireland in 2005, long before all this legal difficulty clouded his sunny life. Imagine his surprise when he popped over to the branch in Athlone and was told his account was frozen.
Gardai had advised the bank, he learned, that the deposit could be tainted. In fact, detectives were looking into criminal activities, including money laundering, and so Mr. Burns could not have his money.
In court, Burns claimed that the funds were the product of a life insurance policy that he cashed in. Perfectly legitimate source, all above board. He sent a check to the Bank of Ireland to open an account, but not in his name, no. There was a lady he was going to marry, and he put the money in her name. Then he transferred it to his sole possession, moving his money from Athlone over to Dun Laoghaire. That may sound like trouble in lover's paradise, but Burns is now claiming that there was no Garda investigation, and the bank is working with the US Justice Department to force him to go back to America, thereby blocking his marriage. Brings a tear to the eye, it does. Still, why not let the money rest in the lady's hands? No basis for marriage there, this lack of trust.
Every time that he has tried to withdraw funds, Mr. Burns has been blocked. Now he is suing the bank, claiming deceit, negligence, and breach of contract. His solicitor has pointed out that the Criminal Justice Act does not give gardai the authority to freeze bank accounts. But if it did, then, well, that's just unconstitutional. Oh, and it's a violation of Mr. Burns rights as guaranteed by the European Convention.
Court watchers are waiting for Mr. Burns' response to the State's explanation. It seems that the life insurance policy, the source of the bank funds in question, was purchased during the time the fraud was taking place. That would make the money part of the proceeds of a crime, in which case Mr. Burns will have to pass the hat or turn to his fiancee for financing. It belittles a man to ask his intended for money. But not so little that Mr. Burns will be heading home any time soon.