Police have uncovered evidence that UDA brigadier Andre Shoukri, spent nearly £1 million in less than two years, despite having no visible signs of income.
In November last year Shoukri (28) was charged with blackmail, intimidation and money laundering. The charges relate to a six-month police investigation into UDA racketeering in north Belfast.
Part of the investigation relates to the intimidation of a bar manageress.
It is understood Shoukri and senior loyalist William 'Bonzer' Borland (36) were secretly recorded attempting to extort money from an employee of Bonaparte's Bar, known as witness 'A'.
Borland is separately charged with intimidating a second person known as witness 'B' and demanding the keys, books and cheque books to the north Belfast bar, as well as possession of a firearm, or imitation firearm, with intent. Both people are in police protection in England and will be the chief prosecution witnesses at any trial.
The bar is just yards from the site of a former pizza parlour where Shoukri and Borland were secretly filmed by police in June 2000 attempting to extort £3,000 from its owner Mel Lundy.
Borland, Andre Shoukri, his brother Ihab Shoukri and Gary McKenzie (33) were jailed for the attempted extortion.
The Lundy family were forced to leave Northern Ireland after police warned them their lives were in danger from the UDA.
However, it is understood police now have evidence that around £800,000 passed through Shoukri's hands in the two-year period since he was released from jail in November 2003 where he was serving a sentence for possession of a firearm.
It is understood police have uncovered documentary evidence from the ledgers of at least four bookmakers in north Belfast which shows that Shoukri gambled the money, despite being unemployed. The bookmakers' ledgers are said to show that Shoukri put £5,000 and £10,000 bets on individual horse races.
Detectives are also understood to have evidence that Shoukri falsified a mortgage application to pay £120,000 for a house at Clare Glen in the Ballysillan area of north Belfast. The case against Shoukri is also understood to show that he took nearly a dozen foreign holidays in the same period and bought a host of high-performance sports cars.
This is despite the fact that when Shoukri was stopped while driving in October 2004 he was found to have no driving licence or MoT certificate and had forged insurance documents.
Shoukri could now face a potential £300,000 tax bill for living off the illegal proceeds of crime.