POLICE have uncovered a network which laundered almost €60 million in black money earned by Asian businessmen.
The alleged head of the group used a string of companies and front men to conceal the money from the taxman while accumulating an €18 million tax debt.
A total of 23 people were arrested in Benidorm, Alicante city, Elche, Elda and Petrel as well as Los Alcazares in Murcia.
Police searched nine properties and impounded extensive paperwork detailing the companies’ accounting systems together with €200,000 in cash, seven top-of-the-range vehicles and jewellery.
They also found a carefully-hidden computer hard-drive with genuine records of the black money and transactions.
Police were first alerted to the network six months ago, while investigating the violent robbery of a large sum of money, followed by an abduction and another robbery with violence.
The victims were all found to be connected and, working closely with Alicante customs and excise officials, investigators soon linked the crimes to the alleged network which laundered Asian businessmen’s undeclared sales.
Cross-referencing their findings with another investigation by the tax authorities, police discovered that the organisation specialised in false accounting and provided bogus bills for tax avoidance.
Investigators finally unravelled a complex structure for fraudulently transferring huge sums of money.
It was supposedly headed by a Spanish businessman and his close associates who organised and coordinated the complex scam.
As well as running the front companies and transferring the businessmen’s undeclared profits, they sought new projects for further investment, administrated properties owned by the organisation and advised on further acquisitions.
They also had contacts amongst lower and middle-ranking customs officials in Alicante who dealt with the paperwork for importing container-loads of Asian goods – both real and fictitious – to justify the cash transfers.
As a precautionary measure, the bank accounts and financial assets of all the businesses and individuals involved have been blocked by a court order.
By Linda Hall