A BENIDORM judge is to prosecute five members of a Costa Blanca-based Russian money laundering gang- almost three years after they were arrested.
The judge’s decision to move forward to trial can be appealed at the Alicante Provincial Court
40 people were either arrested or investigated by the Policia Nacional in December 2020 in what the force called at the time, the biggest move to counter ‘East European-mafia for a decade’.
As the Olive Press reported at the time, Operation Testudo focused on the Marina Baixa area of Alicante province with arrests in Altea and Finestrat, as well as in Alicante City.
Gang members were also detained in Ibiza, Madrid, and Valencia City in a joint operation with Europol.
The investigation started in 2013 and culminated in 18 raids on December 14, 2020.
Russian businessmen were among those arrested including a solicitor- Alexey Shorikov- who runs an Altea Hills real estate agency and was described by the Benidorm judge as a ‘lobbyist’ for the Partido Popular(PP).
The judge said he created a network of contacts with councillors and public officials in Alicante province as well as the police.
The court said that a Policia Nacional inspector was handed an envelope stuffed with cash to speed-along immigration proceedings while its alleged that the head of the Altea Policia Local was ‘persuaded’ to install speed bumps on an urbanisation where one of Mr. Shorikov’s clients lived.
He’s also accused of laundering his own money and that of clients to make bank transfers that were difficult for authorities to trace.
Alexey Shorikov is also alleged to have funnelled laundered cash into an Ibiza warehouse and restaurant owned by Russian businessmen linked to organised crime- Maxim K and Nikolay M, who have also been charged.
After the initial arrests and investigations in December 2020- some of whom were current or former PP councillors in Altea and Benidorm- charges were eventually dismissed a year or so later against the politicians due to a lack of evidence.
The judge also agreed to charges being dismissed against 18 people due to a judicial error which timed out suspects being forced to testify, as authorities forgot to get a time extension.
Benidorm’s Court of Instruction number 1 says that the Money Laundering division of the Policia Nacional detected suspicious money transfers between Russia and Spain via ‘shell’ companies.
The funds were transferred to real estate and leisure businesses on the Costa Blanca and the Balearic Islands which the judge said came from ‘Russian businessmen linked to ex-Soviet organised crime’.
Suspicious purchases included a €600,000 home in Altea Hills, where Alexey Shorikov acted as an ‘interpreter’; a €484,000 La Nucia property; and €440,000 transferred from Russia and Switzerland to buy land in Altea so that it could become a campsite.
A Ukrainian hacker in Alicante’s San Juan beach area- known as Denis K was arrested in 2018 as being the alleged mastermind of a gang of cyber thieves that stole over a billion US dollars from banks around the world.
Denis K worked for other Russian gang members, Maxim K and Nikolay M who gained access to a bitcoin wallet worth €55 million which would have been laundered by Shorikov for their Ibiza purchases.
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