Cross Border CrimeNews

Magnitsky case money launderer arrested in Spain

With the support of Europol and Eurojust, the Spanish authorities have taken action against a criminal gang laundering dirty money linked to the Magnitsky case, a EUR 219 million corruption case in Russia. 

This money laundering ring is believed to have funnelled millions of euros through bank accounts in Europe before sending the funds to Spain to purchase real estate.

The individual at the centre of this money laundering scheme has been arrested in the Canary Islands. A total of 75 properties have been seized so far across Spain for a cumulative value of EUR 25 million.

The EUR 219 million at the heart of the fraud is known as the Magnitsky case. Its name derives from the Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Russian prison in 2009 after having uncovered massive tax fraud carried out by Russian tax officials. 

The Spanish investigators were able to uncover how part of that dirty money ended up in Spanish real estate. A group of individuals were identified – all Russian nationals with little or no ties to Spain, alongside a number of shell companies with no real economic activity. 

The dirty money was either sent to the bank accounts of these Russian citizens supposedly residing in Spain for them to purchase properties, or sent to Spanish real estate agencies with strong ties to the Russian community which would buy real estate on behalf of alleged clients. 

Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre provided specialised support to the investigation. One of its specialists was deployed to Tenerife to provide on-the-spot support to the Spanish investigators during the action day. 

Eurojust provided significant support by managing European investigation orders and information requests sent to 12 different jurisdictions. 

The investigation in Spain was carried out by the Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional) under the coordination of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Corruption and Organised Crime, and the Central Court of Instruction No.2 of the National High Court.