IT is known as the Rock of the King (or Roca del Rey), a giant 2,000m square palace with a private vineyard, helicopter pad and a dozen bedrooms in the hills above Marbella.
One of southern Spain’s most expensive mansions, it boasts a vineyard, bowling alley, mini golf course and, perhaps predictably, a ‘shooting range’.
But it is what is under the ground that should be of considerably more concern to the authorities.
The Olive Press can reveal that the Russian-owned mega-mansion near Marbella has no less than three basements and numerous tunnels dug into the hills overlooking the strategic Straits of Gibraltar.
As well as a giant wine cellar with its own separate champagne room filled with vintage bottles – a classic hallmark of President Putin – it also counts a ‘high-tech panic room’ and a ‘control room, full of screens and buttons’.
There are two guard stations ‘with at least ten guards’, a satellite facility and ‘an underground monitoring device pointing towards the straits’, various sources told the Olive Press.
While officially it is impossible to know who really owns the property in Spain’s most expensive private enclave, La Zagaleta, in Benahavis, various Olive Press sources say they are certain that Putin is behind it.
“He has definitely visited a number of times, when security is incredibly high,” revealed one.
“Zagaleta already has among the best security in Europe, but when Putin is visiting, there is a whole extra level and you can’t get near the house.”
More alarmingly, a high-ranking Ukranian resident in Spain, knows a number of people currently working in the property and claims it has armed guards.
“They carry guns and I also know that a number of drones have been shot down from the sky by them,” she explained.
She continued: “When you arrive it is like an airport. You are carefully searched and you have a sticker put on your phone so you can’t take pictures. The guards will also know if it has been removed or altered in any way. Everybody is watched all the time.
“There is a room somewhere in the basement with loads of screens being watched 24 hours a day.”
Insisting she must remain anonymous for fear of attack by the Russian secret service, she added: “It’s definitely Putin’s house and I know all about its size and luxuries, the place is literally dripping with gold.
“I know many people who work or have worked there from different nationalities and they are all far too scared to talk because of the Russian intelligence based there.
“Even if they spoke to you the media cannot give them protection and they are really worried for their safety.”
She added that their salaries are ‘around €5,000 to €6,000 a month’ but are also worried about their jobs at present, because ‘some haven’t been paid for a month’.
And she added: “It is certainly not the only house that Putin has in Spain and he owns others with partners, with at least one in the Alicante province.”
The Ukranian woman, who is in close touch with the Spanish authorities, added the government should be investigating this and ‘it should be sanctioned at a European level as soon as possible’.
Spain has insisted that it has already imposed sanctions on real estate and other assests belonging to a blacklist of Russian oligarchs with links to the Putin regime.
So far all that has been made public is the impounding of three superyachts belonging to dodgy tycoons while the prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, insists that no blacklisted oligarchs are officially registered as owning property in Spain.
However, the Olive Press has been reporting on the property in La Zagaleta since 2012, when we revealed exclusively that Putin was part of a six-man Russian consortium behind the mansion.
The very epitome of extravagance, the villa cost €19 million to build and sits on an 18,000 m2 plot, with two swimming pools, a cinema and a gym, as well as a 22-car garage.
We were told by one of the constructors and a worker at the estate that Putin had twice been to oversee the project and that he was installing much of his own wine collection in a cellar.
Even more incredibly he was planting a vineyard, comprising 25 plants from Spain’s top bodega Pingus.
A known Hispanophile, Putin visited Spain 37 times in the 1990s alone, according to a book, using false documents.
In another 2014 book, called Putin’s Kleptocracy, by Karen Dawisha, the dictator visited Spain ‘on forged documents during the period 1996-2000 in connection with business meetings between himself, Boris Berezovsky, and Russian crime figures.’
“These kinds of reports led Spanish police to become suspicious of Russian activity in Spain, and in the 1990s they began monitoring the Russian oligarch Berezovsky, as well as several well-known leaders of Russian organized crime, all of whom had houses on the southern coast of Spain.
“In 1999, to their immense surprise, their recorders picked up an unexpected visitor: Putin. He had arrived in Spain illegally, by boat from Gibraltar, having eluded Spanish passport control.”
And he clearly had more interest in Spain than just sunbathing.
According to the Times, in 2015, he had been looking to buy property here since 2000.
The newspaper revealed that the head of one of Russia’s biggest crime gangs, Gennady Petrov, held handwritten notes that indicated that he was involved in the purchase of property in Malaga on behalf of Mr Putin in 2001.
The current mansion in question – one of the most expensive on the market at the time – occupied one of the most secure hilltops on the Costa del Sol.
One of the architects who designed Roca del Rey, Juan Carlos Oubina, at Celtic Sun, told the Olive Press this week that it was first designed in 2009.
“I was initially in charge of the design, which was then taken over by Tobal Architectos,” the Marbella-based architect told the Olive Press.
“It was a real surprise when the investment group that was in charge of the house went on to sell it to the Russians,” he added.
We can reveal that it had first been the home of British computer mogul Alan Sharam, who sold it to the Bolt Investment Group, owned by British developer Hadleigh Bolt.
This company is said to have had close links to the former mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, who died three years ago, owning, according to sources, at least one other house in Zagaleta.
It is believed that Yuri first showed Putin around the villa, before it was sold by a consortium of buyers for a reported €40 million.
In the official Spanish property register, the person who owns the house has the initials ‘V. P’ which coincides with Vladimir Putin’s initials.
That could also, of course, be Vladamir Potanin, another extremely wealthy oligarch, who is extremely close to Putin and, indeed, plays ice hockey with him.
But sources close to the home insist it is the house of the Russian dictator.
“It is definitely his home,” a friend of one of the staff told the Olive Press this week. “He doesn’t arrive at Malaga airport, he travels to Alicante in a private plane and then he comes to Zagaleta by helicopter.
“He has been there at least two times recently and his ex-wife and daughters used to live there when the weather was bad in Russia,” he said.
“His mistress, Alina Kabaeva, a gymnast, was also living there for quite a long time.”
He continued: “Putin used to hire nannies from an external company when kids came to the house. They were forced to sign a confidential agreement, but the tips of around €500-1000 more than made up for it.
“They always wanted nannies with a degree and women older than 45 years old to avoid any of the male guests or staff being sexually attracted to them.”
Officially Spain says there are 895 Russian oligarchs on an EU list of those needed to be sanctioned. But they claim none of them are based in Spain.
This week, Zagaleta’s director of communications, Sergio Azcona confirmed to the Olive Press that 13% of the owners of Zagaleta are Russian but he refused to give any specific information.
Meanwhile, Benahavis town hall, also refused to give out any further information citing ‘data protection’ issues.
However, one local policeman from Benahavis, did tell the Olive Press: “We suspect that at least one Russian oligarch is living there.”
Spain’s government told the Olive Press last night: “We do not give any information on our specific investigations.”
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