Spanish police this week arrested 19 people allegedly linked to a complex network engaged in multi-million euro olive oil fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.

According to Diaro Jaén, the police – who swooped on Wednesday after a year-long probe by a Madrid-based economic crime unit – believe that companies involved in the ‘ring’ had been selling other, lower quality vegetable oils as extra virgin.The paper reported that most of those arrested were business owners or managers of olive oil mills in various parts of the province of Jaén.

Among them was businessman Enrique Fuentes Ibáñez, who already risks a 13-year jail sentence in the separate Iniosa case. In that case, Spanish prosecutors allege he was the brains behind an alleged fraud in which more than 200 olive growers in Jaén and Córdoba delivered their 2001 and 2002 olive harvests to a company which later declared bankruptcy, leaving them unpaid.

Two of his sons were said to be among the 19 arrested this week, all of whom have since been charged and released pending trial. More arrests have been tipped.

The newspaper said it was believed that “those arrested were part of a corporate network involving ‘straw men’, shell companies and tax havens” that also allegedly evaded millions in taxes.

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