Countries/Jurisdictions of Primary Concern - Spain

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

Spain is proactive in identifying, assessing, and understanding its money laundering risks and works to mitigate these risks. Spain is a trans-shipment point for cross-border illicit flows of drugs entering Europe from North Africa and Central and South America. The most prominent means of laundering money are through the purchase and sale of real estate, the use of complex networks of companies and legal arrangements, the exploitation of money or value transfer services, and the use of cash couriers.

The major sources of criminal proceeds are related to drug trafficking, organized crime, customs fraud, human trafficking, counterfeit goods, and financial support for terrorism. Illicit proceeds continue to be invested in real estate in the once-booming coastal areas in the south and east of the country, but criminal groups also place money in other sectors, including services, communications, automobiles, art work, and the financial sector.

Moroccan hashish and Latin American cocaine enter the country and are distributed and sold throughout Europe, with the resulting proceeds often returned to Spain. Passengers traveling from Spain to Latin America reportedly smuggle sizeable sums of bulk cash. Informal money transfer services also facilitate cash transfers between Spain and Latin America, particularly Colombia. Law enforcement authorities continue to cite an emerging trend in drugs and drug proceeds entering Spain from newer EU member states with less robust law enforcement capabilities.

For additional information focusing on terrorist financing, please refer to the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism, which can be found at: //

Do FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONs engage in currency transactions related to international narcotics trafficking that include significant amounts of US currency; currency derived from illegal sales in the U.S.; or illegal drug sales that otherwise significantly affect the U.S.: YES

criminalizATION OF money laundering:

“All serious crimes” approach or “list” approach to predicate crimes: All serious crimes

Are legal persons covered: criminally: YES civilly: YES

Know-your-customer (KYC) rules:

Enhanced due diligence procedures for PEPs: Foreign: YES Domestic: YES

KYC covered entities: Banks; mutual savings associations; credit companies; insurance companies; financial advisers; brokerage and securities firms; pension fund managers; collective investment schemes; postal services; currency exchange outlets; money exchangers or transmitters; realty agents; dealers in precious metals, stones, antiques, and art; legal advisors and lawyers; accountants; auditors; notaries; and casinos


Number of STRs received and time frame: 4,637 in 2014

Number of CTRs received and time frame: 1,503,662 in 2014

STR covered entities: Banks, professional money changers, credit intermediaries, payment systems and managers, and lending firms; life insurance entities and insurance companies that provide investment services; securities and investment service companies, collective investment, pension fund, and risk capital managers; mutual guarantee companies; postal wire services; real estate brokers, agents, and developers; auditors, accountants, and tax advisors; notaries and registrars of commercial and personal property; lawyers, attorneys, or other independent professionals when acting on behalf of clients in financial or real estate transactions; company formation and business agents; trustees; casinos, gaming, and lottery enterprises; dealers of jewelry, precious stones and metals, art, and antiques; safekeeping or guaranty services; and foundations and associations

money laundering criminal Prosecutions/convictions:

Prosecutions: 64 in 2014

Convictions: 186 in 2014

Records exchange mechanism:

With U.S.: MLAT: YES Other mechanism: YES

With other governments/jurisdictions: YES

Spain is a member of the FATF. Its most recent mutual evaluation can be found at:

Enforcement and implementation issues and comments:

Spain has long combated both domestic and foreign terrorist organizations, and Spanish law enforcement entities have identified various threat finance vulnerabilities, including donations to finance nonprofit organizations; establishment of publishing companies that print and distribute books or periodicals for propaganda purposes; fraudulent tax and financial assistance collections; the establishment of “cultural associations;” and alternative remittance system transfers. Other outlets such as small convenience stores and communication centers often act as money service businesses (MSBs), offering wire transfer services and moving money in and out of Spain by making small international transfers for members of immigrant groups. Spanish regulators also note the presence of hawala networks in the Muslim community. While AML/CFT supervision of banks appears to be robust, significant gaps regarding the identification of unlicensed operators, and the supervision of money or value transfer services operating under EU passport rules remain.

All offenses punishable by more than three months imprisonment are predicate offenses for ML. A stand-alone terrorist financing offense was added to Spain’s Penal Code in 2010 which enables terrorist financing activity to be pursued separate from any other collaboration, involvement or membership in a terrorist organization. As of 2014, no convictions have been obtained under this offense, but prosecutions are underway. The level of sanctions is standard with international norms, but in practice, prison sentences being levied against terrorist financiers are low.

In 2015, Spanish police, working with Europol, dismantled a large organized Chinese money laundering network which laundered approximately $337 million in the past six years, mostly in countries in southern Europe. The Chinese group imported counterfeit products into the EU using fake documents and sold the goods without declaring excise taxes. The group also owned several garment factories in the Madrid area where Chinese workers were allegedly exploited. The Chinese money laundering networks reportedly offered to assist other organized criminal groups launder their illicit proceeds in exchange for a percentage of the funds.

The authorities and financial institutions consider the use of large cash sums a significant risk indicator of money laundering, notably related to tax avoidance. In 2014, 39 million euros (approximately $47.1 million) were seized in 783 interventions, and 30 million euros (approximately $33 million) in penalties were imposed. Spanish law does not allow civil forfeiture, but it has recognized and enforced foreign non-conviction based confiscation judgments presented by other countries.

Spain continues to work toward implementing Article 43 of its AML/CFT Law that creates a “Financial Ownership File,” a database that will have the date of account opening, the name of the account holder, the name of the beneficial owner, the name of the financial institution, and the branch location for all bank and securities accounts in Spain. The database is housed at the Bank of Spain, but will be under the control of the financial intelligence unit, and will be available to law enforcement. All specified financial institutions will be required by law to provide the prescribed database information at regular intervals. It should be fully operational by 2016.

A number of different types of money laundering cases have been prosecuted, including those involving third party money laundering, self-laundering, and laundering the proceeds of both domestic and foreign predicate offenses. Spain has had success in disabling criminal enterprises and organized criminal groups by identifying and shutting down their complex money laundering networks of national and international companies. However, the relatively low level of sanctions actually imposed for money laundering offenses is a weakness, as is the limited capacity to handle complex money laundering cases in the judicial system in a timely fashion. Spain should take steps to identify and license all MSBs and ensure they are adequately supervised for AML/CFT.