Operation emperor

Alleged Chinese mafia kingpin Gao Ping back behind bars

Businessman under investigation for massive money-laundering racket represents a flight risk, says High Court

Just five months after he was released from prison on a legal technicality, alleged Chinese mafia king Gao Ping was back behind bars on Tuesday after a High Court judge ruled that he and his wife were flight risks and needed to be held in preventive custody until their eventual trial.

Gao’s lawyer, Jaime Sanz de Bremond, said that investigating Judge Fernando Andreu’s decision “doesn’t contain any new elements” to support this new move in the Operation Emperor case. He said that he client would appeal the ruling.

In a report, the police’s organized drug and crime unit, Udyco, said that a series of tapped phone calls show that Gao may flee the country. But the lawyer said that the judge has already confiscated the passports of the businessman and his wife.

Some 90 people were arrested last October in what authorities said was the biggest money-laundering operation in Spanish history. Gao was the head of an alleged gang of Chinese and Spanish businessmen who laundered between 200 million and 300 million euros annually, the funds disguised through import/export dealings, prosecutors said.

Following his arrest, Gao had to be released on a legal technicality stemming from the fact that he wasn’t taken before a judge within the required 72 hours as prescribed by law. Because there were so many defendants scheduled to appear for their initial hearing, Judge Andreu opted to place Gao in police custody – and not under the court’s jurisdiction – in order to keep the deadline from running out.

However, his maneuver was overruled by a higher judges’ panel and Gao and some 11 other co-defendants had to be released.

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