Spanish judge names Macau as a tax haven for drug trafficking

Casa do Concello in Lugo, Spain

Macau is one of the places mentioned in an investigation headed by Spanish judge Pilar de Lara that aims to track down money from a Lugo (Galicia, Spain) drug trafficking criminal organization, the local newspaper El Progresso reported.

According to the report, Spanish courts have managed to track and freeze several bank accounts used launder the profits from the criminal activities in tax havens such as Andorra, Switzerland, Macau, the Bahamas and Luxembourg.

On such accounts, the newspaper claims to have caught around 6 million euros (around MOP57.3million) as well as over 40 real estate properties in the areas of Lugo, Asturias and Marbella (Spain).

According to judge de Lara, the suspects were using several bank accounts in tax havens to launder the money through the creation of a complex network of companies and offshore firms.

It was mentioned that the alleged head of the criminal gang has numerous criminal antecedents for tobacco smuggling since the 1980s. However, over time the gang’s structure has developed into more lucrative drug products such as heroin and cocaine.

Among the multiple people under investigation are several accomplices that are suspects of creating front companies with the purpose of hiding and disseminating the high incomes coming from the illicit activities.

Sources cited in the process remark that the investigation started in 2014 and has involved frequent phone tapping and other surveillance methods. The authorities acted by taking several group members into custody, unveiling the business network scheme which involved more than a dozen companies in Spain and in Andorra, Macau, the Bahamas and Switzerland. In total, the courts managed to block funds of a sum of over MOP57 million in Spain and abroad, but the amount goes up as more properties, real estate, vehicles and other goods are found to be part of the scheme.

The suspicion of investigators arose from the unusual “excess of luck” that the ex-wife of the head of the gang claimed to have between 1996 and 2015, after she declared almost 400,000 euros (aprox. MOP3.8 million) of income coming from several lottery prizes.

This was considered improbable by the judge, who hypothesized that it may be a result of a scheme of “buying prized lottery tickets” in order to launder money. RM

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