The Hague, 7 November 2013
Eurojust supported and coordinated judicial and law enforcement authorities in the Netherlands, Andorra and Spain in Operation Sunbird, a successful joint operation to disrupt money laundering activities.
The operation took place on 6 November in all three countries simultaneously and was carried out in the Netherlands by the Dutch National Police, in Andorra by the Investigating Judge, the Public Prosecutor and the Policia d’Andorra, and in Spain by the Investigating Judges of Villajoyosa (Alicante) and Marbella with the assistance of the Guardia Civil and the Policía Nacional under the coordination of the International Cooperation Delegates in the Prosecution Offices of Alicante and Málaga. The Public Prosecution Service of the Netherlands has issued European Arrest Warrants for the suspects held in Spain and an extradition request has been made to the Andorran authorities. All of the suspects are expected to be transferred to the Netherlands soon.
Police in the Netherlands searched houses in Amsterdam, Diemen, Tuil and Duivendrecht, where they found two firearms and seized a large number of financial records. House searches were also carried out in Alicante and Málaga. In total, 11 properties were searched. In Spain and Andorra, jewellery, EUR 60 000 in cash and a number of luxury vehicles and houses - including a villa valued at more than EUR 6 million - were seized and bank accounts frozen. Thanks to the assistance of the Dutch and Spanish Desks at Eurojust, the withdrawal of authorisation to carry out a house search was quickly arranged and another search was carried out instead, causing no delay in the joint operation. Police in Spain made two arrests and in Andorra one person was arrested.
The centre of the money laundering operation was a construction company in Andorra that invested in large-scale construction projects. EUR 16 million was deposited in bank accounts in Andorra, most of it from a Dutch drug trafficker who was killed in Spain in 2008.
A coordination meeting involving the Netherlands, Spain and Andorra was held at Eurojust in September 2013. An operational coordination centre was set up on the action day, run by Eurojust’s Dutch and Spanish Desks with the assistance of the Case Analysis Unit.
Mr Koen Hermans, Assistant to the National Member for the Netherlands, commented: “This is an excellent example of a well-prepared case that reached a successful conclusion. The success of the operation also shows how formidable Eurojust’s assistance in coordinating and supporting judicial authorities in the Member States and in facilitating cooperation with third States can be. With the addition of Andorra, a non-Member State, we’ve sent a strong signal that criminals are not safe if they hide outside the European Union.”
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