Thursday, 23 June 2011

SPANISH police say they arrested 34 Chinese citizens as they smashed a family-run crime gang suspected of importing fake goods and laundering the profits, with the help of a chain of laundries.

10:14 | ,

The raids in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Cadiz, Seville and Huelva overnight broke up the largest Chinese-linked criminal gang based in Spain, operating since the 1990s, said the Civil Guard overnight.

Police detained 34 Chinese nationals and seized assets worth 11 million euros ($15 million), it said.

The gang may have earned more than 40 million euros ($54.64 million) a year, importing four-to-six containers a month through Valencia packed with fake tobacco, clothes and other goods bound for sale in Spain, Britain, France, Italy and Portugal, they said.

The Chinese family-run gang laundered the proceeds by moving the money around with couriers, making bank transfers of less than 20,000 ($27,318) and by extending high-interest loans to compatriots based in Spain, police said.

The gang recruited Chinese people it had helped to enter Spain, often taking away their passports after they arrived or opening bank accounts in their names to launder illicit gains, they said.

According to police, the organisation had a branch in China, which controlled more than 30 companies including a chain of nearly 1,000 laundries and was used to conceal the source of the profits.

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