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Cablegate: Spain: Anti-Mafia Prosecutors Welcome Usg

VZCZCXRO0354
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHMD #1003/01 2880618
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 150618Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1326
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0975
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 4147
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHNA/DEA HQS WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUCNFB/FBI WASHDC
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 001003

SIPDIS

FOR ALEX MCKNIGHT AND STACIE ZERDECKI OF EUR/WE
ALESSANDRO NARDI OF EUR/ERA
JENNIFER MCELVEEN AND STEPHEN WOROBEC OF INR/TNC
JOHN REGAS OF NIC
THOMAS FIRESTONE OF EMBASSY MOSCOW

SCOTT HARRIS OF INL
PASS TO BARRY M. BRAUN AND KAREN GREENAWAY OF FBI’S
CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION
PASS TO TOM OTT AND BRUCE OHR OF DOJ’S CRIMINAL DIVISION
EO 12958 DECL: 10/15/2019
TAGS PREL, PINR, KCRM, KCOR, KJUS, SP, RS
SUBJECT: SPAIN: ANTI-MAFIA PROSECUTORS WELCOME USG
OUTREACH, SEEK COLLABORATION
REF: A. MADRID 870 B. MADRID 869
MADRID 00001003 001.2 OF 002

Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission William Duncan for reason s 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY. Embassy Madrid POLOFF and POL/GSO Officer from the Barcelona CG on September 29 met Gerardo Cavero, Barcelona’s chief prosecutor on counter-narcotics and organized crime, and Fernando Bermejo, the city’s prosecutor for anti-mafia, anti-corruption and money laundering issues. They also are dual-hatted as special prosecutors on these issues within Catalonia’s Superior Court of Justice who work in conjunction with counterparts from the national government in Madrid. The two welcomed USG outreach to begin a working relationship based on mutual interests. They expressed interest in meeting DOJ and/or FBI officials during proposed travel to Barcelona on November 13 to speak to private audiences on criminal justice issues, money laundering issues as well as the Russian mafia (See Ref A). COMMENT: Separately, Embassy Madrid understands from the US Consular Agent in La Palma that Mallorcan authorities involved in the June 2008 arrest of Russian crimelord Gennadios Petrov (see Ref B) are prepared to host a dinner for visiting USG officials on November 11 or 12. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

//Taking on the Russian Mafia//

2. (C) Bermejo claimed that there is large scale money laundering going on in Catalonia and “many, many” members of the Russian mafia are active in the region. (NOTE: In Spain, the term “Russian mafia” refers to organized crime members from not only Russia but also all other former members of the USSR.) He and Cavero suggested that public declarations by senior Spanish officials in mid-2008 (see Ref A) that the raid that nabbed Petrov and others had “decapitated” the Russian mafia in Spain were optimistic statements made in a moment of euphoria that did not reflect the current reality. They asserted that the Russian mafia presence has not diminished. Bermejo said that Russian mafia leaders were originally drawn to Spain’s Costa Brava as a vacation destination. Recognizing the opportunities and lax law enforcement, however, the Russian mafia subsequently started using Catalonia as a base for money laundering and other illegal ventures. He asserted that Catalonia cannot allow itself to become a refuge for the Russian mafia nor can it prejudice the investments of legitimate Eurasian businessmen.

3. XXXXXXXXXXXX

. END COMMENT.

4. (C) Bermejo agreed with the notion that money talks, and added this is especially true when the amounts being offered as bribes are so large. Bermejo related to USG officials a saying that in Italy, the mafia is so powerful that it can buy judges. He then added that Italian author Roberto Saviano, famous for his work on the Italian mafia, has commented that the judicial system in Spain is so corrupt that the mafia does not need to buy judges. COMMENT: USG officials understood that Bermejo believed there was an element of truth in what Saviano said. END COMMENT.

5. (C) Bermejo and Cavero are part of a small office - three prosecutors and 4-5 staffers - that is short-handed because their workload is so extensive. Bermejo was promoted to his anti-mafia post in June. Press commentary prior to his appointment identified Bermejo as the best candidate for the job. He took over for David Martinez Madero, who stepped down following death threats by the Russian mafia (See Ref A). Bermejo stated that he has inherited the death threat, which is against the person filling the anti-mafia prosecutor post rather than the individual per se. Bermejo, who had a bodyguard when he worked as a prosecutor in San Sebastian due to threats from Basque terrorist group ETA, will have a bodyguard in his current post. Bermejo, who mentioned several times in passing that he currently works closely with Austrian and Swiss authorities, indicated his willingness to meet Embassy LEGAT and DEA officials during one of his upcoming trips to Madrid. CHACON

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