A PENNILESS pensioner is desperately trying to clear her name in a massive money laundering scandal.
The 78-year-old British expat has spent 25 years battling to prove her innocence after a string of UK police investigations.
Yet the former primary school teacher suspects an ex-husband is entirely to blame for the labyrinthine mix-up.
Now forced to squat in a dilapidated home in Salobrena, near Nerja, pensioner Patience Kelly has taken matters into her own hands after a three-year money laundering investigation left her impecunious.
Led by Staffordshire police, investigations began in 2005 after they believed she had pocketed £40,000 (€54,470) from Abbey National that ‘went missing’ through loans borrowed against property.
She insists she has no idea where the money is and suspects her ex-husband might be behind it.
Police and council letters seen by the Olive Press claim Kelly committed benefit fraud by failing to declare her Spanish assets.
In total, they believed she had ‘laundered’ up to €2.5 million through ‘three or four’ Spanish villas and believed she was earning £999.99 (€1360) per week, which were not declared.
However, Kelly insists she has only ever owned one house in Spain and the €2.5 million was in fact a two million peseta (€12,000) property purchase by her ex-husband in Spain in 1982.
“I was accused of being an extremely wealthy woman, but the reality is very different,” she told the Olive Press.
She insists she has ‘no idea’ where the money is now, but believes her ex-husband may still have it hidden somewhere.
Based on the evidence before the authorities, she was evicted from her council flat in Staffordshire in 2007 for non payment of rent.
While police ‘mysteriously’ dropped the investigation a year later, she has still not been publicly cleared of the allegations.
“I have spent the last 25 years trying to clear my name and been treated like a criminal throughout,” she said.
“I have lost hundreds of thousands in the process and have lived a hand-to-mouth existence.”
Staffordshire police confirmed they were aware of the case, but would not comment on why it had apparently been stopped.
A source at Staffordshire council revealed there was ‘a stack of paperwork’ on Kelly and that she was ‘well known’ in the area.
Officially though, a spokesman confirmed there was ‘no current case’ against her.