International crime ring nipped in the bud

THE Guardia Civil have teamed up with Europol to arrest eight Russian, Ukrainian and Spanish nationals for alleged crimes of money laundering via a series of bogus companies.

Their main activity involved diverting large swathes of cash from two Russian mafia-style organisations using fake mortgage-lending firms which were used to justify financial transactions and property investment.

Investigators also detected links to commercial companies registered in tax havens, as well as with professional figureheads known globally for their money-laundering activity plus Russian criminal networks noted for employing illicit methods to acquire businesses.

The latter groups, known as ‘raiders’, were particularly common during the 1990s, but in Spain it is estimated that they have been able to swindle some €62 million in recent years.

During the operation a number of mobile phones and computers were seized, 142 bank accounts frozen, and 191 properties repossessed, mostly in the Tarragona area.

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