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17 October 2012

Spanish operation targeting criminal networks and money laundering supported by INTERPOL

MADRID, Spain – Nearly 80 people have been arrested across Spain and some EUR 10 million seized in an operation to break up criminal networks of Chinese origin involved in money laundering and other financial crimes.

Operation Emperador, organized by the Spanish police with support from INTERPOL, saw more than 120 raids carried out on industrial zones, cargo ships and homes, mostly in Madrid and Barcelona.

More than 300 police officers took part in the operation, which was led by the Spanish National Court and the Anti-Corruption Office of the Prosecutor’s Office. Participating agencies included the economic and tax agencies, immigration, border control, customs and the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in Madrid.

With investigative links to other countries, at the request of Spanish authorities INTERPOL deployed an Incident Response Team (IRT) to assist with the operation. IRT members facilitated the sharing of information among the agencies involved; conducted checks through INTERPOL databases; and coordinated with other NCBs, in addition to providing assistance with translating documents seized during the raids, including passports and financial accounting books.

Among those arrested were a Chinese citizen who is the alleged head of the network, and a councillor from the Madrid suburb of Fuenlabrada. Authorities also seized around 200 vehicles.

The operation was one of the largest ever launched against money laundering and financial crimes in Spain. The investigation began two years ago, after authorities found that merchandise being shipped from China was not properly declared to the Spanish fiscal authorities.