FOUR Russians accused of being part of a mafia gang have been freed from a Costa Blanca jail.

They were placed into custody in Fontcalent Prison after being arrested in a major money laundering and corruption investigation in mid-December.

The men, including their alleged ringleader, Altea solicitor Alexey Shirokov, were bailed by a Benidorm judge.

Their passports were withdrawn as a precautionary measure.

The four Russians will not have to make regular court appearances, which is often the case under such circumstances.

19 other people were arrested in December including politicians and police officers in what the Policia Nacional described as the ‘biggest East European mafia’ probe in Spain for a decade.

The gang is accused of trying to ‘infiltrate’ Spanish institutions through bribery to control sectors of the economy.

Accusations include money laundering with profits from Russian businessmen ‘invested’ in properties and hospitality outlets on the eastern coast of Spain and in the Balearic Islands.

A solicitor acting for the one of the arrested Russians, Javier Ruiz Blay, said:

“The police operation was a fraud and failure of an investigation that did not yield conclusive results in its seven years.”

“The police see crimes where there are only legal enterprises and that businessmen are being criminalised for being Russian,” he added.

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