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At least three of those suspected of using fraudulent paperwork to obtain residency were allegedly criminals looking to hide in Spain SUR
Almost 50 arrested in Marbella over fraudulent Brexit residency applications

Almost 50 arrested in Marbella over fraudulent Brexit residency applications

CRIME ·

Police say they have broken up two networks who were charging people an average of 1,600 euros to fake documents to prove they lived in Spain

Irene Quirante

Malaga

Friday, 24 February 2023, 07:43

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National Police have arrested 47 people in Marbella for their alleged involvement in fraudulently registering British nationals for residency following the UK's exit from the European Union.

Three of the main suspects were apparently in charge of a law firm in Marbella while two others operated from a law firm in Ceuta.

With the arrests, investigators say they have dismantled two criminal networks which appear to have been operating independently of each other although following the same tactics.

The alleged fraud involved manipulated documentation in applications for residence permits via the foreign immigration office ('extranjería') in Malaga city.

Of the 47 arrests made in Malaga province, three of them were people responsible for the Marbella office of one law firm and two for the firm in Ceuta office. These are accused of crimes of belonging to a criminal organisation, encouraging illegal immigration and forgery of documents. It is alleged there was an average profit of 1,600 euros for each registration.

The remaining 42 were arrested for allegedly taking out documentation fraudulently.

All the arrests were made in Marbella after investigations established that 120 applications for residence permits were fraudulent. These were denied or cancelled after they were granted. At least three of those applying for residency were supposed criminals looking to hide in Malaga province.

Tip-off from immigration

It was a tip-off that put the National Police on the trail of the two criminal plots in April 2021. The staff at the foreign immigration office in Malaga alerted police that certain documentation needed to prove residency they were receiving could be being manipulated.

Based on these suspicions, officers analysed more than 200 residency application files of British nationals and found false documents in more than half of them. Most of them had forged documents such as rental contracts, medical insurance policies, bank statements, invoices and others that, in some way, would justify the residency of those affected in Spain, prior to the deadline post Brexit that was in place to register by.

Those investigated were trying to obtain residency in Spain using the more beneficial route included in the Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom.

This route is reserved for British nationals who were already resident in Spain prior to the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, a requirement that they were trying to prove with the supposedly false documents.

As a result of the investigations, it has been surmised that all the suspects sought to legalise their status by handing over an average of 1,600 euros per person, always in cash and in places away from the offices where the members of the organisation carried out their activities.

The leaders of the organisations that have been dismantled were based in Malaga and Ceuta, and house searches were carried out in Marbella and Cártama in Malaga province. Here officers found a large amount of documentation related to the scheme.

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