Civil Guard arrest four people allegedly linked to Russian mafia in Catalonia

Suspects supposedly tied to one of FBI’s top 10 wanted fugitives

The Civil Guard on Friday arrested four people in Girona allegedly linked to a Russian mafia organization, while at the same time conducted a raid at the Lloret del Mar city hall to confiscate documents connected to a property scheme that the suspects were involved in.

Civil Guard officers kept watch outside city hall at the beach resort as investigators, along with anti-corruption prosecutor Fernando Bermejo, sifted through municipal papers and records to help them in their investigation. Lloret del Mar is governed by the Catalan CiU nationalist bloc.

The arrested were identified by police sources as local businessman Andrei Petrov, his father, a secretary and an architect, Pilar Gimeno.

Investigators say that the four suspects are part of a larger conspiracy whose leader lives in Russia. The organization helped laundered some 56 million euros in the past several years, they said.

High Court Judge Eloy Velasco is in charge of the investigation, which is still under seal.

Lloret del Mar’s mayor, Romà Codina told reporters that he was “at ease” because there have been no irregularities in the administrative work carried out at city hall.

“They are only asking for information on people and businesses in Lloret. They are not looking to find anything on politicians or municipal employees,” Codina said.

The mayor added that he was cooperating fully with authorities and denied previous reports that Gimeno was at one time employed at city hall. Police sources originally said that the city’s architect was among one of the four detained.

Gimeno is the owner of a local firm and has worked closely with co-defendant Petrov by drafting projects for his firm Development Diagnostic Company (DDC), which were later approved by the municipal government, the sources later clarified.

DDC has sponsored local soccer and hockey teams in Lloret.

One of the projects under investigation is the construction of a shopping mall in the city.

Petrov had some suspicious business dealings during the CiU government of former mayor Xavier Crespo. The group made large investments in restaurants, local shops, gasoline stations and real estate firms throughout the years.

Authorities also confiscated an AK-47 at Petrov's home.

Investigators said they believe that the money laundering operation is tied to Semion Mogilevich, a 66-year-old Ukrainian-born indicted suspect who is listed as one of the FBI’s top 10 wanted fugitives.

Mogilevich is wanted for his alleged participation in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud thousands of investors in the stock of a public company incorporated in Canada, but headquartered in Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, between 1993 and 1998, according to the FBI.

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