Alleged money launderer arrested in Spain

A man said to be the ringleader of a gang of money launderers has been arrested in Spain as a result of an international law enforcement operation.

John Francis Morrissey was arrested earlier this month along with two other alleged gang members in Spain and one in England.

According to a police statement, Morrissey’s ring had ties to a Costa del Sol drug gang and used the sale of premium drinks’ brands to restaurants as a cover – a common means of trying to pass off the proceeds of criminal activity into seemingly legitimate gains.

However, the investigators quoted the Spanish tax agency as saying that this trade “could in no way support” the ring’s lifestyle.

The gang was also in charge of collecting large amounts of cash from other criminal organisations, which they would then ‘deliver’ to criminal organisations in other countries.

They did this using the Hawala banking system, an informal method of transferring money without any physical cash changing hands.

The investigators believe that during the joint international Europol investigation, the suspects laundered more than 200 million Euros using this method.

The money laundering ring was dismantled during the operation known as ‘Whitewall’, which started in 2021 after Spanish police seized cocaine and money hidden in cars.

They were joined on the case by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), the Dutch National Police (Politie) and the Irish Garda (An Garda Síochána), with international activity coordinated by Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre.

“This is not the first time that the Hawala system has been implicated in a money laundering operation,” said Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon.

“Our forensic accounting team has experience of these types of cases which tend to be technically challenging because of the paucity of written documentation.  Indeed, the Hawala system is based on word of mouth so audit trails tend to be conspicuous by their absence.  For that reason, less traditional forms of financial and accounting evidence become ever more important.”

Source(s): Reuters


Posted in Blog, The Forensic Blog.