Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
05MADRID1 3 January 2005 No clasificado Embassy Madrid

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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 254401
Money laundered in Spain is primarily from the proceeds of
the Colombian cocaine trade, although money laundered
through other Latin American countries also plays a role.
Colombian organizations use several methods to move money
from European drug sales out of Spain. Money is carried out
by airline personnel traveling between Spain and Latin
America. Colombian companies purchase goods in Asia and
sell the electronics at cartel run stores legally in Europe.
Credit card balances are paid in Spanish banks for charges
made in Latin America. Money deposited in Spanish banks is
withdrawn by ATM cards in Colombia. Wire transfers continue
to be a common way of getting money out of Spain.
Drug proceeds from other regions enter Spain as well.
Hashish proceeds from come from Morocco enter Spain as well
asand some heroin money enters from Turkish smugglersTurkey.
There is also some concern about the black market smuggling
of goods to avoid taxation, especially tobacco and
electronics from Gibraltar. The majority of laundered money
that enters Spain to be laundered is smuggled across the
border in three ways. Bulkas bulk cash via individuals
carrying cash in theiris carried in travelers’ luggage or
hidden on their travelers’ bodies when arriving at
international airports. Shipping ; containers loaded with
currency entering the largerthrough Spanish ports (such as
Algeciras). Money is also ; and money smuggled brought in by
small craft along Spain’s long the coastline.
Money also enters and leaves Spain through the commercial
banking system andThe informal nonbank outlets (such as
"Locutorios"), which make small international transfers for
the immigrant community continue to be used to move money in
and out of Spain. Regulators also suspect the presence of
"hawala" like networks in the Islamic community,
Tax evasion in internal markets and smuggling of goods along
the coastline continue to be a source of illicit funds in
Spain. Spanish authorities believe that tax evasion in the
cell phone and property industries are the most serious
problems. The smuggling of electronics and tobacco from
Gibraltar remains an ongoing issue.
Although little of the money laundered in Spain is believed
to be used for terrorist financing, money from the extortion
of businesses in the Basque region is moved through the
financial system and used to finance the Basque terrorist
group ETA.
The Spanish government is Spain is aware of all of these the
problems. Unfortunately the scale of the money laundering
industry and the sophisticated methods use create a very
large law enforcement problem. The government makes every
effort to eliminate financial crime in Spain; however the
money is difficult to track.
There have been no cases of Spanish officials involved in
money laundering in Spain.
The Government of Spain (GOS) remains committed to combating
narcotics trafficking, terrorism, and financial crimes, and
continues to work hard to tighten financial controls. The
criminalization of money laundering was added to the penal
code in 1988 when laundering the proceeds from narcotics
trafficking was made a criminal offense. In 1995 the law was
expanded to cover all serious crimes that required a prison
sentence greater than three years. All forms of money
laundering were made financial crimes in amendments to the
code on November 25, 2003, which will take effect on October
1, 2004.
The penal code can also apply to individuals in financial
firms if their institutions have been used for financial
crimes. An amendment to the penal code in 1991 made such
persons culpable for both fraudulent acts and negligence
connected with money laundering.
Businesses and financial service suppliers operating in
Spain or targeting Spanish markets are subject to a newthe
law, Ley de Servicios de la Sociedad de Informacion y de
Comercio Electronico (LSSICE), that came into force on
October 12, 2002, for Internet marketing and distribution.
The new law requires businesses to register their domain
names, company registry, physical address, and other company
details. Financial sector businesses such as online banks
must still send written contracts to new customers for
signature and obtain physical proof of their identity, in
order to comply with existing banking regulations.
Royal Decree 998/2003 of July 5, 2003 modified the structure
of the Ministry of Interior to facilitate more active
combating of drug trafficking. This law creates an Advisory
Committee on Observation that will attempt to follow the use
of technologies by criminal organizations and money
launderers and take measures to ensure that Spanish law
enforcement authorities are able to meet the new challenges.
Specific measures to prevent money laundering were written
to regulate the legal entities in the financial sector and
individuals moving large sums of cash, in December 1993 (Law
No. 19/1993), as an expansion to the criminal code whichcode
that previously applied only to physical persons. The
regulations for enactment were established by Royal Decree
925/1995, which set the standards for regulation of the
financial system. The regulations were amended in 2003 and
cover money laundering linked to illicit drugs, terrorism,
and organized crime. The financial sector is required to
identify customers, keep records of transactions, and report
suspicious financial transactions. The money laundering law
applies to most entities active in the financial system,
including banks, mutual savings associations, credit
companies, insurance companies, financial advisers,
brokerage and securities firms, postal services, currency
exchange outlets, casinos, and individuals and unofficial
financial institutions exchanging or transmitting money
(alternative remittance systems). The 2003 amendments add
lawyers and notaries as covered entities. Previously,
notaries and lawyers were required to report suspicious
cases, but now they are considered part of the financial
system that is under the supervision of appropriate
Law 19/2003 obligates financial institutions to make monthly
reports on large transactions. Banks are required to report
all international transfers greater than 30,000 euros. The
law also requires the declaration and reporting of internal
transfers of funds greater than 80,500 euros.
In addition to suspicious transactions, individuals
traveling internationally are required to report the
importation or exportation of currency greater than 6,000
euros. Previously, the Spanish authorities could only keep
12 percent if they uncovered illegal activity, but had to
return the remainder with a Bank of Spain check, which
effectively laundered the money. Law 19/2003 increases
allows the seizure of up to 100 percent if illegal activity
under financial crimes ordinances can be proven. Spanish
authorities claim they have seen a drop in cash carriers
since the law’s enactment in July 2003. For cases where the
money can not be connected to criminal activity, but it
alsoand has not been declared, the authorities may keep
between 25 and 100 percent, depending on the amount of the
currency being carried.
The Commission for the Prevention of Money Laundering and
Financial Crimes (CPBC) coordinates the fight against money
laundering in Spain. The Secretary of State for Economy
heads the commission and all of the agencies involved in the
prevention of money laundering participate. The
representatives include the National Drug Plan Office, the
Ministry of Economy, the Federal Prosecutors (Fiscalia),
Customs, the Spanish National Police, the Guardia Civil,
CNMV (equivalent to the SEC), the Treasury, the Bank of
Spain, and the Director General of Insurance and Pension
Funds. Any member of the Commission may request an
investigation, should suspicious activity be brought to his
or her attention.
The CPBC delegates responsibility to two additional
organizations. The first is a secretariat in the Treasury,
located in the Ministry of Economy. Following investigation
and a guilty verdict by a court, this regulating body
carries out penalties. Sanctions can include closure, fines,
account freezes, or seizures of assets. Changes in Law
19/2003 now allows seizures of assets of third parties in
criminal transactions, and a seizure of real estate in an
amount equivalent to the illegal profit. One weakness that
remains in financial sanctions is that the joint owner may
access joint accounts if he or she can show financial need.
The second organization is the Executive Service of the
Commission for the Prevention of Money Laundering (SEPBLAC),
which serves as Spain’s financial intelligence unit. SEPBLAC
receives and analyzes suspicious activity reports (SARs) and
currency transaction reports. SEPBLAC has the primary
responsibility for any investigation in money laundering
cases and directly supervises the anti-money laundering
procedures of banks and financial institutions.
Incriminating information is turned over to the Federal
Prosecutors for prosecution. Spanish banks are required by
law to maintain fiscal information for five years and
mercantile records for six years.
The Fund of Seized Goods of Narcotics Traffickers receives
seized assets. This agency was established under the
National Drug Plan. The proceeds from the funds are divided,
with half going to drug treatment programs and half to a
foundation that supports the officers fighting narcotics
Terrorist financing issues are governed by a separate code
of law and commission, the Commission of Vigilance of
Terrorist Finance Activities (CVAFT). This commission was
created under Law 12/2003 on the Prevention and Blocking of
the Financing of Terrorism. The commission is headed by the
Ministry of Interior and includes representatives from the
Fiscalia and Ministries of Justice and Economy. Currently,
only the head of CVAFT can request information in terrorist
financing cases, so other members must rely on the
commission head to begin an investigation.
Crimes of terrorism are defined in Article 571 of the Penal
Code, and penalties are set forth in Articles 572 and 574.
Sanctions range from ten to thirty years’ imprisonment with
longer terms if the terrorist actions were directed against
government officials. The Spanish are more active in
freezing terrorist accounts, than drug money laundering
accounts. Their ability to freeze accounts in the most
recent law is more aggressive than that of most of their
European counterparts. Though many laws are transposed from
EU directives, Law 12/2003 goes beyond EU requirements.
However, the implementing regulations for this law have not
been written, and it has not been used. Once in full effect,
this law will allow administrative freezing of suspect
assets without a judge’s order.
All legal charities are placed on a register maintained by
the Ministry of Justice. Responsibility for policing
registered charities lies with the Ministry of Public
Administration. If the charity fails to comply with the
requirements, sanctions or other criminal charges may be
Spain is a member of the FATF, and co-chairs the FATF
terrorist finance working group. Spain is a participating
and cooperating nation to the South American Financial
Action Task Force (GAFISUD), and a cooperating and
supporting nation to the Caribbean Financial Action Task
Force (CFATF). Spain is a major provider of counterterrorism
assistance. The GOS ratified the UN Convention against
Transnational Organized Crime on March 2, 2002, and the UN
International Convention for the Suppression of the
Financing of Terrorism on April 9, 2002. Spain is also a
party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention. SEPBLAC is a member of
the Egmont Group.
The GOS has signed criminal mutual legal assistance
agreements with Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, the
Dominican Republic, Mexico, Morocco, Uruguay, and the United
States. Spain’s Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the
United States has been in effect since 1993. Spain also has
entered into bilateral agreements for cooperation and
information exchange on money laundering issues with
Bolivia, Chile, El Salvador, France, Israel, Italy, Malta,
Mexico, Panama, Portugal, Russia, Turkey, Venezuela,
Uruguay, and the United States. Spain actively collaborates
with Europol, supplying and exchanging information on
terrorist groups. In 2003, U.S. law enforcement authorities
cooperated with the GOS in an investigation that resulted in
the seizure of over $10 million in cash, jewelry, planes,
and real estate.
U.S. law enforcement agencies reported excellent cooperation
with their Spanish counterparts in 2004. U.S. customs works
closely with Spanish customs, Spanish prosecutors, the
national police corps and the Civil Guard. The Drug
Enforcement Administration works closely with SEPBLAC, the
national police and the Civil Guard. These organizations
regularly share information. Official documents however,
will only be transferred if requested by a court.
Seizures of assets involving more than one country and the
division of the assets depend on the relationship with the
third country. EU working groups will determine how to
divide the proceeds for member countries. Outside of the EU,
bilateral commissions are formed with countries that are
members of FATF, FATF-like bodies and the Egmont Group, to
deal with the division of seized assets. With other
countries, negotiations are conducted on an ad hoc basis.
The U.S.-Spain MLAT provides for sharing of seized assets,
but the request must be made to the Spanish court hearing
the case, rather than administratively.