efe-epaMadrid

A married couple who once belonged to the IRA, a paramilitary Irish republican organization, is set to go on trial at Spain's National Court on charges of money laundering and smuggling which could see them face a prison sentence and a fine of close to 900,000 euros ($1,019,500), prosecutors said Sunday.

Leonard and Donna Hardy, both Irish nationals, are due to be tried in Madrid on Thursday on charges of having laundered money derived from illegal cigarette and alcohol smuggling through real estate operations, for which they could be sent to jail for a year and ordered to pay a fine of 887,906 euros, prosecutors said in a statement.

The Prosecutor's Office said in its provisional findings that up until the time of his arrest in 2014, Leonard Hardy had been engaged in "the smuggling of tobacco on a large scale as head of the criminal organization responsible," which began its activity in 2005.

"The defendant, either directly or in conjunction with his wife," the statement added, "used her or a society called Vinnea to conceal the benefits obtained" from smuggling by laundering it through real estate investments.

The prosecutors said this was all done despite the fact that neither of the defendants had "any visible means of income that could justify the origin of such sums of money which were then utilized to invest in the properties which were acquired for a total value of 887,906 euros," the statement said.

The prosecutors' statement went on to detail three operations, one in southeastern Alicante and the other two in southern Malaga.

Leonard Hardy was arrested in a hotel on the Spanish resort Canary Island of Lanzarote with his wife, whose maiden name was Donna Maguire, at the end of 2014.

Judge Pablo Ruz, who was then an investigative magistrate at Spain's Central Court, ordered Hardy be released on a bail of 250,000 euros, while his wife was released so that she could attend to the minor children of the marriage but required to appear at the Spanish consulate closest to her home in Ireland.

An investigation had been initially launched based on information that pointed to the existence of money laundering activities derived from the smuggling of tobacco and alcohol which concealed the cash through the acquisition of properties in different Spanish provinces on the Mediterranean coast as well as through the creation of shell companies.

Based on these details, a series of probes were carried out that confirmed these criminal practices.

The investigation made it possible to verify that an Irish citizen, a former member of the IRA, was at the head of the organization and that his partner, who had also been a former member of the paramilitary organization, had collaborated in the crimes with him.

Hardy and Maguire are a married couple who have four children and live in Dundalk, Ireland.

Hardy, originally from Belfast, received a six-year prison sentence in Germany in 2006 after admitting his involvement in a failed IRA mortar bomb attack on a United Kingdom Army barracks in Osnabruck in 1989.

He did not serve the sentence as a result of the Good Friday Agreement which brought violence to an end in Northern Ireland.

Maguire was handed down a nine-year sentence in Germany in 1995 after being found guilty of attempted murder and explosive offenses in the same attack.