Over 2,000 suspicious 'Bin Laden' deals revealed
11 December 2006, MADRID — Investigators have traced 2,100 suspicious operations linked to property deals in which EUR 500 bills were used.
11 December 2006
MADRID — Investigators have traced 2,100 suspicious operations linked to property deals in which EUR 500 bills were used.
Each transaction amounted to at least EUR 500,000, investigators said.
The Spanish daily El Pais reported all the cases were worth more than a EUR 1 billion.
A large number of these transactions involve real estate deals in Madrid and along the Mediterranean coast.
Finance Ministry officials picked 30 of the biggest transactions and want to know why so much cash was used.
If they cannot offer a legal explanation, the suspects could end up in court.
Recently, the European Central Bank and Banco Central reported that about 26 percent of the EUR 500 bills in circulation within the European Union are used in Spain.
The EUR 500 notes are known in Spain as Bin Ladens because, like the leader of al Qaeda, it is known they exist but no one has ever seen them.
Investigators believe many of those who use and demand high denomination notes when they conduct transactions are trying to conceal the financial operation in question.
"Not all the operations that have been conducted are illegal. But we want to see whether they followed all the rules," said one investigator.
The Spanish Tax Agency requires banks, financial institutions and construction companies to report any transactions undertaken with a large number of EUR 500 notes.
"Information has also been given on the armoured vehicle services that have transported
large amount of cash," said José María Peláez, president of the Finance Ministry Inspectors’ Association.
Banks are also required under the law to regularly report transactions over EUR 3,000.
The investigation is conducted in various phases. First, inspectors identify people who have requested large withdrawals or transfers of more than 1,000 EUR 500 notes.
Then the individual is called in to give an explanation.
Then the purchase or transaction is examined to see if it was carried out according to the law.
Subject: Spanish news