MADRID, January 29 (RIA Novosti) – A deputy mayor of the northeastern Spanish town of Lloret de Mar has been arrested on suspicion of having ties to a Russian criminal gang, Spain’s national television said Tuesday.
Four alleged Russian mafia members, including Andrei Petrov, were arrested in Lloret de Mar, near Barcelona, Spanish media reported on Friday. Petrov is suspected of money laundering, tax fraud and faking documents.
Police suspect the city's deputy mayor, Josep Valls, of having accepted bribes from Petrov, Spanish media reported.
The probe began after investigators noticed that Petrov’s assets had significantly increased in the recent years. Police believe this fact was due to the businessman’s possible ties to Spanish officials.
Valls served as the councilor for housing construction on the team of Xavier Crespo, Lloret de Mar's mayor. Crespo admitted that Petrov had paid for his trips to Russia, but denied having received bribes from the Russian gang member.
Spanish prosecutors are currently investigating Crespo’s possible links with Russian mafia. Crespo is currently a deputy of Catalonia’s Convergence and Union party.
Petrov, who was refused bail on Monday, told High Court Judge Eloy Velasco that he had paid for Crespo’s trips. Crespo said he traveled to Russia to learn more about Petrov’s companies and examine various ways in which they could work in Spain.
Police have also arrested Petrov’s brother and close ally Konstantin Mishanin and Lloret de Mar's former architect Pilar Gimeno, who is believed to have been a middleman between Petrov and the city council.
La Vanguardia newspaper reported that Petrov had a Kalashnikov gun in his house when police came to arrest him.
The gang is suspected of having laundered over €56 million ($75 million) in the past two years and to have links to Semion Mogilevich, one of the FBI's ten "most wanted" fugitives.
The group owns restaurants, shops, gas stations and property in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia.