Marbella FC president released from jail after paying 750,000 euro bail

Alexander Grinberg outside jail with his wife last week.
Alexander Grinberg outside jail with his wife last week. / J. RHODES
  • Two other suspects arrested on the Costa del Sol last September in connection with an organisation linked to Russian mafia groups have also been released

Alexander Grinberg, the president of Marbella Football Club, left Alhaurín de la Torre jail last week after paying the 750,000-euro bail set by the Malaga provincial court. The Russian was arrested along with three others in September as part of a Guardia Civil operation against an organisation that was allegedly linked to mafia groups operating on the Costa del Sol.

Two others, Oleg Kuznetsov, the main shareholder in the firm Aguas Sierra de Mijas, and Arnold Tamm, the alleged leader of the organisation, were released days previously after paying similar sums.

Kuznetsov's defence lawyer Francisco Carvajal had called for his client's release, arguing that there was no evidence against him and referred to “errors” in the investigation that had been carried out “from a computer and with no knowledge of mercantile law”.

Kuznetsov maintained that he was a businessman who did “business, not money laundering”, denying links to criminal organisations and pointing out that he has no criminal record in Russia or Spain. “He shouldn't be suspected just because he's Russian,” said Carvajal, who described the bail sum as “excessive”.

Similar arguments were given by the defence lawyer representing Arnold Tamm, who is considered by the Guardia Civil as one of the top members of the Russian mafia group known as Solntsevkaya. Tamm, whose real surname is Spivalovski, is allegedly “closely linked” to Semion Mogilevich, the leader of the organisation and one of the FBI's most wanted criminals since 2009, in connection with a fraud worth 150 million dollars.

Tamm's lawyer has said that the “organisation does not exist and he is not the boss”. “Being a national of an ex-Soviet Republic is not evidence that a crime has been committed,” said the lawyer in his appeal for bail. He maintained that his client was on holiday in Marbella and telephone calls did not infer his participation in the events under investigation.

Alexander Grinberg also said that his nationality should not be considered as evidence. According to his defence, “He is a citizen who has moved his assets from Russia to Spain, who pays his taxes and whose children are at school in this country and therefore is unlikely to fail to appear [in court].”

The court granted bail despite opposition from the public prosecutor, who argued that there was a risk that the suspects could fail to appear in court. The magistrates said that the sums of 750,000 euros had been set “as a clear deterrent” to attempts to escape justice.

All three have been ordered to report to court fortnightly and their passports have been taken away.

Operation Oligarkl

Code-named Oligarkl, the operation began four years ago and ended in September with the breaking up of the Spanish arms of the Russian criminal organisations: Solntsevskaya and Izmailovskaya, according to the Guardia Civil. They say that 30 million euros has been laundered by suspected companies, including Marbella FC.