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Last Updated: Monday, 11 April, 2005, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Estate agent on laundering charge
A leading east Belfast estate agent has been remanded in custody at the city's magistrates court.

Philip Johnston, 39, of Kings Road, Belfast, is accused of four charges of money laundering, which he has denied.

Opposing bail, a police officer said he was concerned Mr Johnston had access to material in the case and would be able to interfere in the investigation.

Mr Johnston, who owns six branches of an estate agency and employs about 40 staff, is due in court again next week.

The court was told that Mr Johnston was "vehemently denying" all four charges.

A detective sergeant told the court that he could connect Mr Johnston to the charges and said he was objecting to bail as the defendant could "interfere with certain material" beneficial to the police investigation.


He confirmed that warrants to search Mr Johnston's "many offices throughout the city" were being obtained in the High Court.

Mr Johnston's solicitor argued there had been "ample time" to obtain warrants and search premises, as he was arrested on Friday night and charged the following evening.

The solicitor added that Mr Johnston had a clear record and that to oppose bail on the grounds that the defendant would interfere with evidence was not valid as there were "other locations of files held in solicitors' offices that may well yield information".

Postponing a bail hearing until Wednesday, the resident magistrate said he would not agree to release Mr Johnston until all police searches had been carried out.

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