Kinahan Organised Crime Group

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 19 April 2022.

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Photo of Russell Findlay Russell Findlay Conservative

1. To ask the Scottish Government what action it can take in response to sanctions announced by US authorities against members of the Kinahan organised crime group, in light of the group’s reported connections to Scotland. (S6T-00644)

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government continues to work with law enforcement agencies in Scotland and elsewhere to tackle organised crime. We cannot comment on individual operations, but we will continue to take any action that we can—as will our partners—within our current powers to ensure that organised crime groups do not see Scotland as a safe haven for their assets.

Photo of Russell Findlay Russell Findlay Conservative

O ne Kinahan gang member who has been sanctioned is John Morrissey, along with his Glasgow-based vodka company, Nero Drinks. However, the Kinahans are not interested in flogging vodka—their real business is cocaine and heroin. It is widely known that the cartel is in partnership with Scotland’s Lyons gang, making vast profits from killing Scots.

The Scottish National Party Government turned its back on the United Kingdom Government’s project ADDER—addiction, disruption, diversion, enforcement and recovery—which aims to tackle drug trafficking through tougher police enforcement. Considering the international sanctions, will the cabinet secretary rethink that decision?

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

I am sorry that Mr Findlay has so quickly adopted his usual attack-the-SNP mode. There is a very serious issue at the root of his question, which is the pervasive influence of organised crime. We and Police Scotland work very effectively with other agencies, including the National Crime Agency, to address not only organised crime but issues with drug gangs. I will continue to support Police Scotland in those efforts, and to support our joint work with the National Crime Agency and other partners in Scotland and the UK. That seems to be a constructive and effective way to go forward, rather than seeking to throw mud whenever possible.

Photo of Russell Findlay Russell Findlay Conservative

No mud was thrown on my part, but no answer was given on the cabinet secretary’s part.

Journalists in Ireland and elsewhere have taken great personal risks to reveal how the Kinahan cartel’s dirty money has infiltrated boxing; Tyson Fury and the Scottish world champion Josh Taylor are among those whom Daniel Kinahan represents. However, I contend that Scottish football is also contaminated by drugs money. Last year, the Scottish Government issued a video warning young players about the risk of being targeted by organised criminals who pose as advisers. Can the cabinet secretary tell us, therefore, what tangible action has been taken against dirty money in boxing and in football in the 12 months since that video was released?

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

I have already mentioned the extent to which we work with Police Scotland and other organisations, including the Scottish Football Association, on those issues. It is also worth saying that in taking action, whether against the gangs that Russell Findlay mentioned or against organised crime more generally, it is often not the best course of action to lay out exactly what you are doing as you are doing it.

As I am sure that the member will know, certainly in relation to sanctions and other actions that are taken against organised crime groups, the more you telegraph what you intend to do, the harder it is to find both the evidence and the proceeds of crime that derive from the activities of those gangs.

We will continue to work with our partners in sport and with the police to ensure that we take effective action and that people who are vulnerable, including young sportspeople, are best protected by taking the advice that they can get from Police Scotland and other justice partners.

Photo of Audrey Nicoll Audrey Nicoll Scottish National Party

H ow will the updated serious organised crime strategy enable Scotland to combat serious organised crime?

Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

I t does so by ensuring that we work with organisations, including those that I have mentioned already, as well as the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the national health service, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers, the National Crime Agency, HM Revenue and Customs and others that are represented on the serious organised crime task force.

We also benefit hugely—despite what was said in the previous set of questions—from having the crime campus, which is unique in the UK. It has been commended by most of the justice organisations, and by the UK Government on a regular basis, given the frequency of its visits to see how that work is carried out.

The attack on serious organised crime is carried out jointly, with fantastic co-ordination, at the national crime campus. We are determined that, despite the occasional brickbats that are thrown from elsewhere for party-political purposes, we will continue to work in that way with our agencies in Scotland and with those across the UK. Of course, we recognise that serious organised crime does not recognise borders and that our response to it must therefore be joined up.