Italian and Spanish police arrest 33 suspects in globally active TBML network

Authorities in Italy and Spain have arrested 33 suspects in a coordinated action against a globally active money laundering criminal network according to the EU police agency, Europol.

It says those arrested allegedly laundered drug profits generated in Europe, by offering the service of trade-based money laundering (TBML) known as the black market pesos exchange.

Money laundering network controller

The alleged perpetrators, who are Italian, Albanian, Colombian, Moroccan, and Syrian nationals, had built up an international network of companies to launder dirty money.

As what Europol describes as a ‘money laundering network controller’, the criminal network offered a professional criminal service to veil the origin of proceeds generated by illegal drug trafficking from South America.

Worldwide network

Supported by Europol and Eurojust, the EU agency dealing with judicial co-operation in criminal matters among agencies of the member states, money-laundering specialists from the Italian Guardia di Finanza uncovered a network of electronics companies located around the globe and seized €18.5 million (US$19.9 million) in assets.

A complex web of companies in several countries, including China, Turkey and the US, allowed the organised crime group to disguise the nature, source, location, ownership, control, origin or destination of illegally acquired funds and to avoid their detection.

TBML methodology

The black market pesos exchange process used to launder drug profits generated in Europe reduced the risk of losing money through seizures and allowed for faster access to the funds.

The drug producers would provide drugs to the Italian buyers as a form of credit. The profits generated from the sale of the drugs in Europe were then picked up by brokers, introduced into companies, and used for ordering goods such as mobile phones from China.

These goods were then shipped to the US and onwards to Colombia, where they were offered on the market. Upon being sold, the Colombian cartels received the cash and thus their veiled payment for the drugs provided to European sellers.

Europol’s statement, 33 arrested as global money laundering service is shut down, along with video footage of the global money laundering service being shut down can be found here.


Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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