A FORMER high ranking official of the Russian Ministry of Culture, his wife, grown up child and a Marbella lawyer have been arrested accused of money laundering.
The case revolves around the buying of a €4 million villa in the Costa del Sol city, with it alleged the money paid was derived from tax crimes and corruption in the Russian Federation.
The man was arrested in Vienna, while National Police made the other arrests in Marbella and Estepona.
In 2018 police in Malaga province received a request for information from the Russian authorities about an alleged large-scale tax fraud committed in their country by the official of the Ministry of Culture, who according to Russian information was living on the Costa del Sol.
Russian authorities issued an international arrest warrant for the extradition of the suspect for his alleged involvement in two case of corruption in his country, where he is accused of taking advantage of his status.
In one of the legal proceedings in Russia, he is accused, in collusion with others, of embezzlement of some $7.2 million of public funds that had been earmarked for the reconstruction of the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia.
In the second case, the same individuals were reportedly convicted in 2017 for the embezzlement of $2.6 million that should have been used for the reconstruction of architectural heritage monuments in various Russian region.
Spanish police investigations led them to a home in Estepona where the family is said to have lived since 2015.
Officers found that through a Spanish company linked to them, they had acquired luxury real estate Marbella for €4 million, paid for via a transfer from a Swiss bank.
Spanish law allows for money laundering crimes where the funds come from abroad can be tried in Spain, so a European Warrant was Issued for the arrest of the suspect by a Marbella court.
The main suspect was arrested in Austria where he awaits an extradition hearing.
Four searches were made on the Costa del Sol, three in Marbella and on in Estepona during which the other three arrests were made.
Police have seized a luxury villa in Marbella, a high-end vehicle valued at about €100,000, about €160,000 in bank accounts and cash, as well as high-value jewellery, and various documentation.
The police say their investigations have shown that the people arrested used a complex business network, making it difficult to ascertain the illegal origin of the funds and the identity of the people behind this real estate money laundering operation.