Police smash Spain's biggest money-laundering gang
16 November 2005, MELILLA — Police have arrested 19 people including a lawyer in an operation against an international money-laundering gang involving EUR 350 million.
16 November 2005
MELILLA — Police have arrested 19 people including a lawyer in an operation against an international money-laundering gang involving EUR 350 million.
The operation, which centred on Melilla in Spain's north African enclave, also brought arrests in Malaga, Ceuta and other cities.
Most of the bank accounts involved were in South East Asia and China.
There were 14 arrests in Melilla, three in Ceuta and two in Malaga.
They put large sums of money into accounts whose beneficiaries were manufacturing companies.
The gang made the cash from peddling drugs and laundered the money through Morocco to Asia.
Police sources said they had laundered at least EUR 350m and had their base in Melilla.
However, they extended their activities to across Spain.
A lawyer with offices in Malaga was allegedly involved in laundering the cash through various accounts there.
In order to try to cover up the operation, he would organise the importation of textiles and car parts.
Police also seized 15 luxury cars, high-value jewellery, computers, telephones and bank documents.
The gang had 200 bank accounts with 18 different banks –all of which were blocked by police.
Fourteen properties were also seized, 11 in Melilla, two in Ceuta and one in Zaragoza.
Spanish interior minister José Antonio Alonso congratulated police for completing a "hugely important operation".
The latest police operation is bigger than one which smashed another gang earlier this year which was laundering EUR 250m through a series of lawyers centred around Marbella.
Operation White Whale, which is still going on, has brought scores of arrests around Europe and has involved police forces as far a field as the United States and Asia.
Originally, it was suggested the Russian oil giant Yukos was implicated but this was strenuously denied.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news