Court frees alleged crime ring leader on bail

Court frees alleged crime ring leader on bail
Chinese businessman and art gallery owner Gao Ping outside court in Madrid. Photo: Dominique Faget / AFP.
A Spanish court on Thursday freed a Chinese businessman accused of leading one of the country's biggest money-laundering scams after he posted bail of €400,000 ($440,000), a judicial source said.

Gao Ping was arrested in 2012, accused of leading a gang that allegedly laundered €300,000 ($330,000) a year, dodged taxes, bribed officials and forged documents.

A source at the National Court in Madrid told AFP a judge there granted Gao conditional release after he paid the bail sum on Thursday.

The judge confiscated his passport and ordered him to check in with the court weekly, the source said, without giving further details.

Spanish news agencies citing Gao's legal team said members of the Chinese community clubbed together to raise the €400,000 for his bail. His lawyers could not be reached by AFP on Thursday.

Gao, aged in his late forties and reportedly from Zhejiang in northeastern China, owned art galleries in Madrid and Beijing plus businesses in Cobo Calleja, a huge Chinese trading estate in southern Madrid.

He was arrested in October 2012 along with about 80 other suspects, mostly Chinese but also including Spanish police officers, authorities said at the time.

Police said they seized €10 million in cash during raids on the network as well as guns, jewels and art works.

The court freed Gao a month later over procedural irregularities before taking him back into custody in April 2013 as a flight risk, pending a complex judicial investigation.

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