Three German fugitives arrested in Spain for providing shadow banking system to criminals

(Source: Europol)

With the support of Europol’s Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC), the Spanish Civil Guarda (Guardia Civil), together with the German Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt) and the Police Headquarters Heilbronn (Polizeipräsidium Heilbronn), have broken up a money laundering ring which was operating a parallel banking system for criminals.

Three individuals have been arrested as the result of an action day in Malaga, Spain, on 30 March, the details of which can only be released now due to operational reasons. All three suspects have been on the run from the German authorities since 2021. The criminal organisation’s ringleader – a German national of Russian origin – features among those arrested.

The suspects are believed to have run a shadow banking system which processed hundreds of millions of euros of criminal transactions isolated from any oversight mechanisms governing the legal financial system.

The criminals moved around large amounts of cash through this parallel system, helping criminals launder their illegal proceeds and fund their activities mainly linked to drug trafficking. The ringleader of this criminal network would negotiate commissions of up to 5 % for every million euros managed, with profits estimated at more than EUR 250 000 per day.

Europol’s EFECC supported the investigation by providing its secure communication platform and facilitating international cooperation between Spain and Germany, running cross-checks and providing analytical support and operational expertise. A Europol mobile office was also deployed to Malaga to assist the Spanish authorities with the action day.

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