POLICE in Spain have been forced to release three Lithuanians after catching them trying to ‘smuggle’ just under €1 million in cash.
The trio were caught with the money after the driver of the group crashed the camper van they were travelling in on the A-92 in Granada heading towards Malaga.
Some of the bills were spread across the road when officers arrived to the scene while the driver – who tested positive for drugs and alcohol – was found outside the vehicle.
The trio, one of which lives in Malaga, were taken to a nearby hospital where they were treated for minor injuries.
Investigators believe they were travelling in a basic van to ‘go unnoticed’.
In their police statements, the Lithuanian nationals, two men and a woman of 41, 45, 35 years old, all denied the money was theirs and said they had no knowledge of who it belongs to.
None of the three have been arrested and only face an administrative infraction for not having requested permission to travel with that amount of cash.
Anyone moving more than €100,000 cash within the country must declare it to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
Whoever owns the €1 million is required to fill in a S1 declaration form addressed to the Commission for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Monetary Infractions.
Failure to do so carries a penalty ranging from €600 to 50% of the seized cash – in this case almost €500,000.
In most cases, however, a minor fine is applied.
However the lawful origin of the cash must still be demonstrated before taxes, if applicable, are applied by the state.
If the money’s legal origin cannot be demonstrated then it will remain in the hands of the State Treasury.
This is where the almost €1 million will remain until anyone can prove it is theirs and that it has come from legal earnings.