‘Kebab’ gang skewered!

A VAST international money-laundering operation, based on the Costa Blanca and in Barcelona, has led to five arrests and 15 people charged, following an investigation by the Guardia Civil.

The criminal organisation, operating in Germany and Spain, used a network of food establishments to conceal their activities, fronting as kebab meat suppliers.

Guardia Civil officers began their probe in the summer of 2015, when police agents from the Barcelona-El Prat airport discovered that a huge sum of money was being sent from Spain to Germany on a weekly basis.

Gang members were transferring between 90,000 and 300,000 euros between the two countries. They told the airport authorities that the transfers were payments by Spanish companies to a German firm, for their supply of meat for kebabs.

But the investigation revealed that the Spanish companies were not even involved in genuine, commercial activities.

Police discovered that the gang, operating since 2012, had built up a network of companies involving money-laundering to front them.

Spanish authorities estimate that around 36 million euros has been transferred and laundered by the criminal network.

Europol has supported the probe since 2017 by providing analytical and operational support, carrying out data analysis and cross-match reporting.

As a result, the Guardia Civil, who have blocked 36 bank accounts and 35 credit cards, have also seized five properties in the Alicante province, worth around 470,000 euros.

Simon Riondet, Europol’s Head of Financial Intelligence, said: “This investigation again shows that criminal business is still, largely, done in cash.

“Professional money-laundering syndicates offer cash-courier and compensation-laundering services for illicit proceeds.

“Very often, networks of front and shell companies are established to facilitate the movement of the money, and to provide justification for the proceeds.”

He added: “These activities are further enabled by the lack of cash-payment restrictions in some EU countries, which allow justifying large cash amounts as payments for trade activities.

“The continued law-enforcement seizures of large denomination banknotes, and the prevailing, trade-based money-laundering schemes, reinforce the need to discontinue the production and circulation of 500 and 200-euro banknotes and set an EU-wide framework for restricting or setting a common limit, for cash payments.”


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Posted by on Mar 16 2018. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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