Nine people have been arrested in France, Germany and Austria for the sale of stolen gold worth around 1 million euros a year, according to Europol. French gendarmes in coordination with German and Austrian police and Europol carried out a large-scale operation targeting organised robbery, concealment and money laundering, resulting in the arrest of nine people since last week.
Six suspects, three men and three women, were detained in France, while two other arrests were made in Germany and one in Austria.
Investigations began in January 2018 in the Nantes region, where a 56-year-old jeweller had been identified as receiving the stolen gold, which he is believed to have melted into ingots in an oven in his house before transporting them to a German
wholesaler in Frankfurt, according to French prosecutors. The man then returned to France with cash. He was arrested on Monday on board a train near the Franco-German border with 37, 000 euros in cash. The jeweller and a “member of his family” are suspected of having laundered the proceeds into real estate investments.
“The investigation revealed that the jeweller, whose activity was not declared, is a luxury watch enthusiast and that he has made at least 21 trips from Nantes to Frankfurt since 2018. Leaving Nantes he carried gold bullion in his bag and returned with cash,” Nantes Prosecutor Pierre Sennes said in a statement.
The total value of the transactions since the start of the investigation in early 2018, amounts to 1.1 million euros. Nearly 50,000 euros worth of diamonds were seized as part of the investigation, which mobilised around a hundred investigators in Germany and as many again in France. luxury watches, diamonds, vehicles and real estate with a value of around 3 million euros were also seized.