OFFICERS from the National Police have smashed a ring that allegedly operated a fake branch of the Vatican bank and swindled people around the world.
They arrested three Spaniards and a Colombian suspected of running the criminal network in Fuengirola, near the sea resort of Marbella, police said in a statement.
The group “usurped the identity, symbols and image” of the bank, which does not have an office outside Vatican City.
It obtained “huge profits” from contracts signed with “a lot of companies around the world” to develop “commercial relations and provide financial advice,” said the statement.
“As well as a lot of paperwork, agents seized a sailboat in the Fuengirola marina, several luxury cars, €64,000 in the main suspect’s bank account, many luxury watches, technological supplies, silver ingots, point of purchase devices, a firearm with blanks and €5,000 in cash.”
The group’s office in Fuengirola features the shield of the Vatican on its glass door and it owned a luxury car which had the same coat of arms a door.
Among those arrested is the suspected ringleader, a 30 year old Spanish man who claimed to be a member of the Vatican’s diplomatic corps and had fake documents that identified him as a Cuban ambassador.
The four suspects face charges of fraud, money laundering, impersonation and criminal association.