Spanish Court Jails 6 ICBC Staff Over Money Laundering Probe

A court in Madrid on Saturday has ruled that six executives of the local branch of China’s largest state-owned bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), should be detained pending a judicial probe into suspected money laundering and tax fraud.

Three ICBC officials–the branch’s first general manager, current general manager and vice general manager–were sent to jail without bail, while three others were given the option of paying 100,000 euros ($111,300) for bail, according to a court statement released on Saturday.

Five of the executives were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of money laundering, violations of Spain’s tax laws, and forgery.

The sixth, who once worked in ICBC’s Madrid offices but now works in its Luxembourg branch, was caught on Friday, according to the Washington Post.

All six employees waived their right not to testify.

As of press time, the bank continues to operate normally and Wednesday’s search of its Madrid premises “took place within the strict framework of pre-trial investigations,” the court statement said.

The Madrid branch is cooperating with the police investigation and people should not conclude that the bank was guilty as the local court has yet to reach a verdict, an anonymous ICBC official told the Xinhua News Agency.

The Chinese embassy in Madrid issued a statement on Friday saying the Chinese government “requires Chinese companies to maintain a strict compliance of the law” and that the ICBC uses the latest anti-money laundering system provided by Spanish authorities.

The head of ICBC Europe arrived in Madrid “to help” as soon as he had been informed of the search, the statement said.

The Chinese government hopes that Spain would deal with the issue according to law, protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and personnel, and safeguard the ties between China and Spain, Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Thursday.

Police said Spain’s National Fraud Investigation Office and the European Union’s Europol agency were collaborating in the investigation.

According to Spanish law enforcement authorities, the search was a follow-up of an operation done in 2015 that targeted gangs using the bank to launder to China around $40 million euros ($45 million) taken from illegal activities.

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