After adopting the euro, the Spanish economy initially benefited from sharply lower interest rates, spurring a property bubble. However, with the onset of the global financial crisis, property prices collapsed, causing widespread layoffs, and pushing unemployment to more than 26 per cent by the end of 2012. Spain received a bank bailout from the European Central Bank in 2012.
Spanish police raid Chinese money-laundering mob
Agence France-Presse in Madrid
Spanish police arrested 60 people in raids on Chinese mobsters and accomplices, including a Spanish porn star, suspected of laundering money from prostitution and extortion, authorities said.
Hundreds of officers were carrying out raids in Madrid and Barcelona, with warrants to arrest 108 people and search 120 properties on money-laundering and tax-dodging charges, said an official in the National Court.
"About 60 people have already been detained and the arrests and searches are continuing," the interior ministry said, noting that some 300 police officers were involved.
The National Court, which ran a two-year investigation leading to the raids, said the gang channelled money from rackets involving prostitution and extortion to tax havens using Spanish and Israeli intermediaries.
The network also smuggled cash to China by train and car and used front companies, such as karaoke bars and restaurants. The authorities did not say how much money was involved.
Among those arrested was Nacho Vidal, an international porn star credited in titles such as Sexcapades and The Sexual Messiah 2.
He ran a company that was suspected of taking part in the money-laundering, said the court official, who asked not to be named.
Another of those arrested was Jose Borras, a local councillor in Fuenlabrada, southern Madrid. The district is home to the Cobo Calleja trading estate, considered the biggest Chinese wholesale hub in Europe.
The court source said Cobo Calleja was the "nucleus" of the money-laundering network.