Lanarkshire vodka company with links to gangsters who have received taxpayer-funded handouts during the pandemic


A Lanarkshire vodka company linked to a crime cartel received taxpayer-funded handouts during the pandemic.

Nero Drinks Company Limited, run by Glasgow mother Nicola Morrissey and ‘enforcer’ husband John, received up to £10,000 under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The couple are believed to run the drinks company – which sells bottles of British vodka recommended by celebrities for around £30 each – from their Spanish home in Puerto Banus, near Marbella’s Millionaires Playground.

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Latest records show the firm employed just two people in 2020, including director Nicola, 46.

Husband John, 62 – appointed by US authorities last week to be a staffer at the Kinahan Transnational Crime Organization – is a brand ambassador for Nero.

Despite social media posts showing the couple enjoying the trappings of wealth, the firm demanded money through the CJRS.

It is not known how much HMRC has refused to disclose claims older than a year when CJRS was introduced.

John Morrissey

Nero Drinks – whose place of business is listed as a £440,000 house on a residential street in the village of Stepps – has been described as part of KTCO’s network of business interests by US law enforcement officials, who have compared the crime clan to terrorist groups and the Italian mafia.

The US Treasury Department has offered a $5 million reward for helping convict its kingpins, including boxing promoter Daniel Kinahan.

US authorities said: “John Francis Morrissey, who is currently a resident of Spain, has been identified for material support, sponsorship or the provision of financial, material or technological support for or goods or services for or in support of KTCO.

“John Morrissey worked for KTCO for several years, including as an enforcer, facilitating international drug shipments from South America for the organization. John Morrissey is also involved in money laundering.”

The Morrisseys on their football sponsorship launch for Hamilton

There is no indication that his wife Nicola is under investigation or has committed a crime.

Nero Vodka was a sponsor of Hamilton Academical in 2019. But sources said it has stopped paying sponsors. A source said: “Nero did a launch at the stadium where some glamorous models with the Morrisseys showed up there.

“But soon after, the money stopped coming in. That happens in football.”

Scottish Tory shadow community Security Secretary Russell Findlay said: “It is disgusting that a company receiving taxpayers’ money should now have links to a global drug cartel and this is now likely to be investigated by HMRC.”

HMRC data showed Nero had received taxpayer-funded handouts, but didn’t say how much.

Rules mean previous payments older than a year have been purged from public records.

Funding was granted from February to September, when the program to prevent workers from losing their jobs ended.

An HMRC spokesman told us: “We have built anti-fraud measures into COVID support programs from the start, and we are taking strict measures to combat fraudulent and criminal behavior.

“We have blocked the payment of tens of millions of pounds in claims and we are using the full range of our powers to recover mispaid claims.

“There was no one at Nero’s Lanarkshire headquarters when we visited last week.

The Morrisseys were also contacted by phone but did not respond.

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