Prosecutors can give details of John Gilligan’s past during his trial for possession of and attempting to remove criminal property, a judge said.
Gilligan, 67, from Greenforth Crescent in Dublin, was stopped at Belfast International Airport in Co Antrim last year with €22,280 (£19,240) in cash as he was about to board a flight to Alicante in Spain.
He was questioned about an anti-insomnia prescribed medication which is “prevalent” in the Irish drugs market.
Gilligan had a piece of paper with the name of the drug printed on it but said it was for his personal use.
He said the money was intended to rent a house in Spain and denied planning to smuggle the Zopiclone drug, barrister Robin Steer told a court.
The accused also said he had a heart condition.
Details of his past were outlined at a magistrates’ court in Coleraine where Mr Gilligan is due to stand trial later.
Mr Steer summarised the accused’s defence as: “It is a coincidence that this particular type of drug is relevant within the drugs scene.”
He added: “It is a mere coincidence that I am bringing this money out in cash and going to an area where Zopiclone is cheaper and widely available.”
And he said the drugs were sold for €20 (£17) for 14.