Georgian crime boss sentenced in Spain for money laundering

1st June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish court on Tuesday convicted a top Georgian crime gang leader of money laundering and sentenced him to seven and a half years in jail.

Spain's top criminal court also slapped Zahar Kalashov, who was extradited to the country from Dubai in 2006, with a fine of 20 million euros (24.6 million dollars).

The court said he laundered money earned from criminal activities carried out in the former Soviet Union, such as kidnappings and the operation of illegal casinos, by investing in real estate and luxury cars in Spain.

It said he should be deported once he has served three-quarters of his sentence and will then be banned from entering Spain for a decade.

Public prosecutors had asked that Kalashov, who police suspect led the Georgian mafia in Spain, be sentenced to 12 years and two months behind bars.

Five other men who were detained as part of the same police investigation into the group were also convicted of money laundering at a separate trial last year and received prison sentences of between two and five years.

Kalashov fled Spain after police launched "Operation Wasp" in June 2005 which culminated in the arrests of 28 suspected members of his organisation from former Soviet states in Barcelona, Alicante and Malaga.

The swoop saw 800 bank accounts frozen and the impounding of luxury villas and vehicles along with the seizing of some 300,000 euros in cash.

© 2010 AFP

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