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Spanish police search China bank for money laundering

Spanish police on Wednesday searched the Madrid branch of China’s biggest lender ICBC as part of a probe into the suspected laundering of at least 40 million euros ($44.5 million), police said in a statement. The director of the branch and a deputy director were arrested, a source close to the investigation said. The bank is suspected of being used to “introduce into the financial system funds earned through the alleged crimes of smuggling, tax fraud and the violation of workers’ rights, allowing the transfer of the funds to China in a way that appeared legal,” the police statement said. The operation is part of a probe carried out last year against Chinese organised crime groups based in Madrid which are suspected of importing huge amounts of goods from China without declaring them on customs forms, to avoid import and tax duties. The crime groups allegedly deposited the money earned into ICBC, which is accused of sending the funds to China without checking their origin as required by law. One of the crime groups that was broken up last year is suspected of having laundered “an amount known to be as of the moment 40 million euros” in the branch, the police statement said.
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