Spain arrests 'one of Europe's biggest money launderers'

Sources identify the man as John Francis Morrissey, 62, who works for the notorious Kinahan organised crime group

One of Europe’s biggest money launderers was arrested in Spain on Monday. Photo: Europol
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Police in Spain have arrested who they have alleged to be one of Europe’s biggest money launderers following a raid.

The British-Irish suspect, who is alleged to have shifted more than 200 million euros ($200 million) in illicit cash, was detained on Monday in the south of the country.

Europol did not identify the man, but sources close to the investigation identified him as John Francis Morrissey, 62, who works for the notorious Kinahan organised crime group.

He was arrested following an operation in the Costa del Sol, it has been reported.

Europol said Morrissey "and his associates were in charge of collecting large amounts of cash from criminal organisations, which they would then 'deliver' to other criminal organisations in other countries.”

They had been using the so-called hawala underground banking system, which is operated through face-to-face transactions, it said.

“It is believed that the suspects have laundered over 200 million euros using this method," Europol added.

The international operation, which was led by the Spanish Guardia Civil, involved two associates being arrested in Spain and another in the UK.

Morrissey "is one of our high-value targets," Europol spokeswoman Claire Georges told AFP.

"His arrest followed a complex investigation led by the Spanish Guardia Civil, who worked together with the British National Crime Agency (NCA), the Dutch police and the Irish Garda and Europol," which co-ordinated the international operation, she said.

The UAE froze assets related to the Kinahan organised crime group in April after it was hit with US sanctions.

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control placed sanctions on seven senior members of the crime gang to stem their financial operations.

The UAE government said at the time it took “allegations of criminal activity extremely seriously”.

“The relevant authorities co-operate closely on cases involving foreign elements, in line with the UAE’s international commitments and national legal framework for combating illicit activity,” it told The National.

“In the case of the Kinahan organised crime group, the UAE has been working proactively on its own investigations and, as a result of this, all relevant assets have been frozen.

“The UAE will continue to pursue its own investigations and work in close collaboration with relevant authorities in the US, UK, Ireland and Spain on this case.”

Updated: September 15, 2022, 10:56 AM