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.
Chinese suspects seized over drug money scam in Spain
Agence France-Presse in Madrid
Spanish police have arrested six suspects, including one from Hong Kong, who allegedly laundered hundreds of thousands of euros a week in drug money.
Officers exposed a network including two Chinese nationals, one suspect from Hong Kong and three Moroccans in raids at locations including a major Chinese trading estate near Madrid.
The network sold hashish that was smuggled from Morocco to Spain - distributing it to countried including Britain and France - and laundered the money via wholesale purchases of clothes and jewellery.
Police said they seized 21 million items of clothing worth more than €100 million (HK$1 billion) as well as luxury cars and jewels and watches worth €4 million.
After catching drug-traffickers in December with 11 tonnes of hashish, police traced the gang's financial activities and discovered it was laundering €500,000 of drug money a week.
"The group was mainly composed of nationals from Morocco and China specialised in introducing the illicit money into the legal market," the statement said.
"They carried out a multitude of commercial transactions."
Moroccan members used the money in transactions involving suspects on the industrial estate of Cobo Calleja, Europe's biggest Chinese wholesale hub.
The site was the centre of a major raid last year after which scores of suspects, including a Chinese businessman, Gao Ping, were charged with money-laundering and other crimes.