Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland man denies Italy money laundering claims

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Media captionHarry Fitzsimons, who is from west Belfast, denies any wrongdoing

A west Belfast man linked by Italian police to an investigation into money laundering by the Calabrian mafia has denied any wrongdoing.

Italian police named Harry Fitzsimons as a suspect and said they had issued a warrant for His arrest.

However, Mr Fitzsimons's solicitor, Dan McGuinness, denied reports his client was arrested in Italy on Tuesday.

The solicitor said Mr Fitzsimons has not at any time been contacted by police in Italy or Northern Ireland.

"Mr Fitzsimons totally refutes the allegations being made against him which are unfounded," Mr McGuinness said.

"He has not at any time been contacted by the police in either Italy or Northern Ireland and has been carrying out a legitimate business as a promoter of properties in south Italy."

The investigation centres on the 'Ndrangheta, the Calabrian-based crime network, and its activities in tourism.

The branch of the Italian police involved is the Guardia di Finanzia - the finance police.

They have seized assets worth almost £400m, including companies and holiday villages.

One of the properties involved in the investigation, the Jewel of the Sea development, has been at the centre of a legal dispute between Northern Ireland residents - who paid out between £40,000 and £180,000 - and an Italian property company.

Harry Fitzsimons, who is in his 60s, is listed as a director, or former director, of four property companies in Belfast and Dublin.

Claudio Petrozziello, district commander of the financial police in Italy, said Mr Fitzsimons had a previous conviction for a IRA bomb attack.

However, Mr Petrozziello told the BBC: "I have no evidence to imagine a link, a concrete link, or even an eventual link, with the organisation."

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