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Spain and France bust million-euro-a-day money laundering network

Jointly run by France’s anti-fraud squad and the Spanish police with Europol’s support, the investigation began in February 2021 when French customs agents found more than 500,000 euros hidden in a car in southern France.

Led by a French magistrate, investigators discovered the existence of a “criminal scheme for laundering large quantities of cash across Europe”, which had been operating since at least 2019, a joint statement said.

This network, made up of Chinese nationals living in various European countries, was able to integrate huge sums of cash — more than one million euros ($1.1 million) per day — back into the legitimate economy.

“Their modus operandi was based on the existence of many collection points for money that was mainly coming from trading in counterfeit goods, tax and customs fraud, and pimping” sex workers, it said.

The money was then transferred to the network which then organised its distribution across Europe.

Spanish police arrested five people in Madrid, Valencia, Alicante and Barcelona, including a Chinese businessman who headed the network.


Investigators also searched various premises and homes, and by using sniffer dogs were able to find “almost 160,000 euros in cash hidden behind false ceilings and in portable refrigerators” and in other well-concealed places.

“This international operation… shows the leading role of Asian criminal groups in money laundering activities in Europe,” they said.



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