Zheijiang art dealer jailed in Spain laundering probe

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2012, 5:12pm

A Spanish judge has ordered a Chinese businessman and art dealer be held in jail on suspicion of leading a gang that laundered hundreds of thousands of euros, a judicial source said.

Gao Ping, 45, was remanded in custody pending an ongoing investigation into the alleged money-laundering racket involving Chinese businesses in Spain in which more than 80 people have so far been arrested.

Of the 82 suspects questioned by judge Fernando Andreu so far, 47 have been remanded in custody, including Gao and his wife, 23 have been freed on bail and 12 released, said the source, who asked not to be named.

Gao, reportedly from Zheijiang province in northeastern China, was a high-flying member of Spain's large Chinese immigrant community, owning businesses including art galleries in Madrid and Beijing.

Over 500 police took part in "Operation Emperor", the probe that yielded last week's arrests. They said they seized 10 million euros (HK$100.9 million) in cash as well as 200 vehicles, guns, jewels and works of art.

Top anti-corruption prosecutor Antonio Salinas said the network laundered up to 300,000 euros a year, dodging taxes, bribing officials and forging documents.

Among other high-profile suspects to have gone before the judge in the case is Nacho Vidal, an international porn star who says he is innocent of involvement in the racket.

Gao was the last of a batch of 11 suspects who were questioned in preliminary hearings by the judge on Saturday.

Gao was described by the judicial source as the hard core of the network's leadership, and police and judicial authorities said he was suspected of being the leader of the network.

Judges will rule later at an unspecified date whether he will go on trial.