China expresses concern to Spain over bank fraud probe

AP News
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Posted: Feb 19, 2016 10:02 AM
China expresses concern to Spain over bank fraud probe

MADRID (AP) — A senior Chinese government official met Friday with a representative of the Spanish embassy in Beijing to express a "high level of concern" over a money laundering and tax fraud probe of China's ICBC bank in Madrid that has led to six arrests.

According to a government statement, Deputy Foreign Minister Liu Xing told embassy official Jose Luis Garcia Galan that China hopes Spain will deal with the case in a lawful manner and guarantee the legal rights and interests of Chinese businesses and personnel in Spain.

It said Garcia Galan responded that Spain would conduct an impartial investigation, guarantee the rights of those concerned, and deal with the case "cautiously and appropriately" to avoid damage to cooperation between the sides.

China expressed similar concern over the case Wednesday after police raided ICBC's downtown Madrid office and arrested five executives.

Spanish police on Friday arrested a sixth executive of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China as part of the probe.

The six were brought before an investigative magistrate Friday. The judge will decide whether they should be released and if they are to be formally placed under investigation.

The police said the operation was a follow-up on one in 2015 that targeted gangs using the bank to launder to China some 40 million euros ($45 million) proceeding from Chinese-run bargain stores in Spain.

The sixth detainee previously worked in ICBC's offices in Madrid but now works in the Luxembourg branch, police said. He was arrested in Madrid.

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Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.