Kinahan snr planned ‘fresh start’ in Zimbabwe

Drug trafficker has lived in Harare for months at a time and recently attempted to secure a marriage licence there

Christy Kinahan snr has been trying to set up a new life in Zimbabwe with his long-term partner and their young children. The Irish Times understands Kinahan, a convicted drug dealer and Kinahan cartel founder, tried to secure a marriage licence in Zimbabwe to lay the ground for gaining permanent residency there.

Gardaí believe he has gone to great efforts to put in place arrangements to relocate permanently to Zimbabwe in the event he needed to move from his current base in Dubai. He began working on his plan around five years ago, at the time his son Daniel’s public profile in professional boxing was beginning to grow. Co-operation between international law enforcement agencies investigating the drugs cartel he founded was increasing at the same time.

Nothing was known before now about Kinahan’s connections to Zimbabwe, or the fact that he has three young children with a long-term partner, a Dutch citizen in her late 40s.

However, the 65-year-old Dubliner has frequently travelled to Zimbabwe over the past five years and has lived there with his family in Harare for extended periods. Kinahan lived in a rented property for several months at a time.


Gardaí believe his efforts to secure a marriage licence, by marrying his partner in Harare, were blocked after he lodged the paperwork

He also opened at least one business in Zimbabwe, in the construction sector, establishing a website and social media accounts for it. He has also been exploring investment opportunities in the region. It is likely that he would have been entitled to a renewable 12-month business residence permit, designed for foreign nationals intending to invest and create jobs in Zimbabwe.

However, it is unclear if he ever secured that permit and gardaí believe his efforts to secure a marriage licence, by marrying his partner in Harare, were blocked after he lodged the paperwork. Whether he made subsequent efforts is not known, although gardaí believe the authorities in Zimbabwe have blocked his attempts to date and have been liaising with US law enforcement about his activities in their country.

Kinahan, who was in Zimbabwe as recently as the spring, has been presenting himself as a businessman looking for opportunities, mainly in the aviation sector, including buying aircraft. Calling himself Christopher Vincent, and using a British passport, he has also presented himself as a consultant for an airline providing services in the NGO sector in Africa. His connection to that airline, which is not based in Zimbabwe, has emerged publicly before now.

One Garda source said he was ‘living in a much different world’ since the US sanctions were unveiled in Dublin in April

It is understood his last trip to Zimbabwe was in March-April this year, shortly before the United States announced financial sanctions on him and his two sons from his first marriage – Daniel and Christopher jnr – as well as four of their associates. A version of the same sanctions was announced by the authorities in the United Arab Emirates just weeks later.

Travel bans

As well as locking the Kinahans and their close associates out of the US banking system and banning US citizens or companies doing business with them, travel bans were also imposed on them. That means the Kinahans cannot fly on US airlines, and sources in Dublin say it has made them much more wary of any air travel.

It is unclear if those travel sanctions have dissuaded Kinahan snr from returning to Zimbabwe, though one Garda source said he was “living in a much different world” since the US sanctions were unveiled in Dublin in April.

Kinahan was jailed in Ireland for drug dealing after being caught with a large amount of heroin in Clontarf in Dublin in 1986. He later served another prison term for cheque fraud. When he was released just over 20 years ago, he relocated to Spain. There, he grew a drugs wholesale business before moving to Dubai about seven years ago.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times