Thursday, 31 July 2014

Spanish police arrest 27 car dealers in ‘rollback fraud’ crackdown

THE Spanish National Police have arrested 27 used car dealers for the oldest trick in the book: dialing back cars’ distance gauges to sell them at a higher price. The investigation was launched after a man bought a car in Toledo thinking it had 87,000 kilometres on it, only to find out it actually had traveled 207,000. Now, some 48 falsified cars have turned up in five provinces, hailing from 24 separate dealerships. But those are only the ones that got caught. Authorities have reported that only a small percentage of falsified cars ever get discovered by their owners.

Christy Kinahan was celebrating today after being told he will not face trial in Spain on drugs and arms trafficking charges.

 

Christy Kinahan was celebrating today after being told he will not face trial in Spain on drugs and arms trafficking charges.

The underworld boss feared he would be prosecuted for the crimes after a high-profile police raid on his Costa del Sol home in May 2010,

But a judge investigating the Irishman and a gang of alleged accomplices including his two sons has decided to drop the allegations.

Kinahan, who was hauled back to a court in Estepona yesterday for further questioning, is now being probed only on suspicion of money laundering and membership of a criminal gang.

 

 

 

The dramatic decision, which a state prosecutor decided not to appeal against, will be seen as a major blow for the Spanish police and politicians.

Former Home Secretary Alfredo Rubalcaba branded the Kinahans a “mafia family” when Christy and sons Christopher and Daniel were arrested during a series of dawn raids on the Costa del Sol.

Nearly a dozen suspects were arrested in the UK and Ireland as part of the same Europol-coordinated police operation.

Rubalcaba, who has just been replaced as leader of Spain’s main opposition party, even linked the alleged gang ringleaders to a string of murders when he reacted to news of the arrests during a visit to Poland.

He said at the time: “This was an operation against an important, well-known mafia of organised crime, which has operated in different countries and which is being linked to various murders and with a number of crimes from drug trafficking to people trafficking.

“It is a mafia family relatively well-known in the United Kingdom, a little less known in Spain, but they are established on the Costa del Sol.”

Investigating judge Maria Carmen Gutierrez Henares is understood to have binned her drugs and weapons trafficking probe after finding no evidence linking Kinahan and his alleged accomplices to the crimes.

Christy and his sons and alleged right-hand man John Cunningham will remain on bail along with the other suspects while the secret court probe continues into the money laundering and criminal gang membership allegations.

 

Daniel Kinahan, front wearing shades, carries his mother's coffin
 

 

Sources close to the long-running case predicted last night it could take at least two more years to reach trial - and the number of defendants in the dock would be a fraction of those originally arrested.

One insider said: “All the suspects including Christy Kinahan have been called back to court over the last three weeks to give evidence behind closed doors.

“Most said they had nothing to add to earlier statements.

“Christy KInahan attended court yesterday/on Wednesday but managed to get in and out of the building without anyone cottoning on to the fact it was him.

“He’s not surprised the drugs and weapons allegations against him have been dropped but he’s obviously very relieved.

“The judge took her decision around the same time she called the first of the suspects in for further questioning.

“Their defence lawyers are confident the money laundering charges are not going to prosper either.”

Another well-placed source added: “The suspects weren’t asked a single question about drugs or weapons.

“Most declined to add anything to their original statements.”

More than 20 people including the Kinahans were arrested on the Costa del Sol more than four years ago as part of Operation Shovel.

Christy, arrested at his luxury apartment in a private development near Estepona, spent six months on remand in jail before being bailed.

Armed officers sealed off a residential street after his detention before marching him into court.

Police said at the time the gang he is said to have led owned property worth 500 million euros in Brazil and 160 million euros in Spain.

The suspects had a fleet of expensive cars seized and bank accounts frozen

Russia enacts 'draconian' law for bloggers and online media

A new law imposing restrictions on users of social media has come into effect in Russia. It means bloggers with more than 3,000 daily readers must register with the mass media regulator, Roskomnadzor, and conform to the regulations that govern the country's larger media outlets. Internet companies will also be required to allow Russian authorities access to users' information. One human rights group called the move "draconian". Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote The internet is the last island of free expression in Russia” Hugh Williamson, Human Rights Watch The law was approved by Russia's upper house of parliament in April. It includes measures to ensure that bloggers cannot remain anonymous, and states that social networks must maintain six months of data on its users. The information must be stored on servers based in Russian territory, so that government authorities can gain access.

Marbella Michelin stars

MARBELLA is preparing to turn itself into the capital of haute cuisine by hosting the presentation of the Michelin Guide 2015. Campaign promoters have been working towards Marbella hosting the event, which will take place on November 19, for four years. The presentation of the Michelin Guide at the Hotel Los Monteros could have an economic repercussion on the area of as much as €10 million according to Maria Asenjo, director of OAK Power (the organisation which has been lobbying for the presentation to come to Marbella). Asenjo explained that the dream began four years ago when there was a meeting of chefs who have Michelin stars at El Lago. "From that day we knew that we had to get it" explained Asenjo. She then went on to comment that the competition had been stiff and that she and her team had spent more than 600 hours dedicated to bringing the presentation to Marbella. Dani Garcia, local Michelin starred chef and head of gastronomy for the event, said that Marbella should be proud of itself for having achieved this honour.

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Super Rich Foreigners soar by 21% in demand for homes over 500,000 euros

The demand for housing over half a million euros, from which granted Spanish citizenship if foreign buyers increased by 21% in the last three months , according fotocasa.es . The search for these homes are especially located in Madrid, Catalonia, Andalusia, the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country and Valencia. These areas coincide with the preferred regions of foreigners to settle. Given the realized purchases, foreigners purchased a flat in 2013 spent on average 381,860 euros . The more money spent on the purchase of property were Russians (678,424 euros), followed by Germans (338,716 euros), Belgians (346,728 euros), English (190,633 euros) and French (171,644 euros). On the other hand, the area claimed by foreigners investing in Spain is the coast of Alicante, which arouses interest especially the British and the Russians.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Guadalhorce valley The beautifully scenic Guadalhorce valley in Spain is an area full of stunning natural views.

Guadalhorce valley The beautifully scenic Guadalhorce valley in Spain is an area full of stunning natural views. Lying within easy reach of key Spanish cities such as Malaga, and easily accessible from the nearby Costa del Sol airport, Guadalhorce is enjoying a renaissance in popularity, as investors purchase second homes in the area. Guadalhorce valley is also located ideally closely to market towns including Coin and Alhaurin el Grande, making it an ideal option for visitors and residents who enjoy the quiet and picturesque valley life, but who sometimes like to sample the more vibrant side of Spain’s culture. Increasing interest In recent years, Marbella has become Spain’s go-to place for property investment, with the Costa del Sol resort enjoying an unprecedented rise in popularity amongst the rich and famous. Whilst considerably helping an ailing global property market, this proved to be a difficult period for the more sedate and understated side of the Spanish economy, with Guadalhorce valley amongst the areas suffering. But now, Guadalhorce is enjoying its own rise and recovery, with investors from the UK, Belgium and Holland taking interest in properties that are reasonably priced between £150,000 and £200,000. Providing a much more authentic taste of Spanish lifestyle than the more party-orientated resorts such as Marbella, Guadalhorce is becoming ever more popular.

Mayor and politician Arenas at La Sala Banus

Marbella’s illustrious Mayor, Maria Angeles Muñoz graced La Sala Banús with her presence on Saturday 19th July when the resort’s first lady enjoyed lunch on the terrace with Javier Arenas, the well-known Spanish politician, currently National Vice Secretary for territorial affairs for the Partido Popular, and formerly President of the party in Andalucía from 2004-2012. In the middle of a promotional campaign to create awareness among the population of residential tourists in Marbella about the advantages of registering at the Town Hall, the Mayor was campaigning from a large mobile office stationed opposite La Sala Banús at the entrance to the bustling Saturday market. The Town Hall are aiming to increase the number of people officially registered as resident in Marbella from 145,000 to 150,000 over the summer months and are outlining the benefits in terms of increased funding for Marbella from central government which translates to better services for the resort. At La Sala Banús, the Mayor, Mr. Arenas and a group of friends sampled an appetising array of La Sala signature dishes including Calamari, Mini Hamburgers, Duck Spring Rolls, Butterfly Shrimps and Pasta Vongole. The Mayor’s party enjoyed lunch on the terrace, one of eight available areas for dining at La Sala Banús.

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Desperate Housewives star, Eva Longoria, was in Marbella, holidaying with family.

Desperate Housewives star, Eva Longoria, was in Marbella, holidaying with family. To celebrate her mother’s 70th birthday, Eva took her, Ella Eva Mireles, to a local spa. However, there was a lot more than rest and relaxation on the agenda for driven Longoria.

She organised and attended two events in the area in aid of a variety of charities. The first was on Saturday, a golf tournament benefiting Global Gift, an organisation that brings different influential people and organisations together for charitable causes. The event was held at the glamorous La Quinta club.

Then on Sunday night, Longoria attended the Global Gift gala in aid of Global Gift, the Eva Longoria Foundation and the Bertin Osborne Foundation. The event attracted many wealthy guests who paid €500 each for a seat.

The star’s foundation, helps deprived women and children in the US-Latino community by giving education and opportunities, whereas, the Bertin Osborne Foundation aids children who suffer from cerebral palsy.

Global Gift is now planning on distributing the money raised to five different organisations in Marbella, according toFox News Latino.

The sponsors took care of all the event’s expenses, so the money raised went in total to good causes.

“In other galas, in the end, you have to pay all the organisational costs and the money raised ends up going for the party,” explained Global Gift founder Maria Bravo. 

Luckily, this wasn’t the case because Iberia Airlines covered the celebrities’ journeys, the chef, Martin Berasategui, took care of the dinner and the Don Pepe Hotel supplied accommodation.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Named 'businessman of the year', José Mestre headed Barcelona's biggest port container operator before being charged with smuggling 186 kilos (410lb) of cocaine.

Named 'businessman of the year', José Mestre headed Barcelona's biggest port container operator before being charged with smuggling 186 kilos (410lb) of cocaine. The Local looks at his fall from grace and takes a sneak peek at his impressive mansion, Barcelona's most expensive.

Fifty-seven-year-old Mestre was once the toast of the town, his company Tercat managing two container terminals at Barcelona’s busy port.

In June 2010, just months after receiving the accolade, Mestre was arrested after Catalan police found 186 kilograms camouflaged in one of his scrap metal containers, Spanish national daily El País reported.

Police surveillance found Mestre had been holding talks with an international drug ring for several months.

Four years on, Spain’s High Court found him guilty of drug trafficking, sentencing him to 12 years in prison and slapping him with a €14.6 million ($19.76 million) fine.

As the tycoon turned drug villain is not yet behind bars, he’s taken the time to try to sell off one of his most prized possessions: a 2,500sqm (27,000 square feet) property described as “an architectural jewel from the 1920s”.

The money raised via the sale will be used to pay off Mestre's obligations, including mortgages he holds with banks.      

Spain’s biggest home sale and rental website Idealista has posted an ad for the opulent property, located in Barcelona’s Pedralbes neighbourhood,The €30 million mansion is split into two buildings, which have a wine cellar, gym, garage with space for 12 vehicles, pool, nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms and even a watchtower.

Wildfires ravage Spain villages

 100 firefighters backed by planes and helicopters battled a blaze in scrubland near the town of Bustares in the central province of Guadalajara, east of Madrid, the regional government said. The blaze, which was accidentally started by a beekeeper, forced the evacuation of 140 people from two villages, it added. The wildfire has destroyed around 200 hectares of land, including part of the Sierra Norte national park. More firefighters aided by water-dropping aircraft fought another blaze raging near the town of Cogolludo, also in Guadalajara province. This fire, accidentally sparked on Wednesday by a combine harvester, saw 40 people evacuated from two villages. The blaze has so far destroyed over 800 hectares of scrubland and pine forest. High temperatures, strong winds and low humidity levels were fuelling the two wildfires, officials said.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

What Do The New Airport Security Measures Mean For You?

 

 

Travellers are being advised to power up electronic devices in hand luggage as part of new security measures introduced at UK airports.

The move comes as the US stepped up its airport security, although the Department for Transport (DfT) said there was "no change to the UK threat level, which remains at substantial" - the third of five possible threat levels. So what has changed and what will it mean for passengers? What are the new restrictions on charging devices in your hand luggage? Passengers passing through airport security will have to prove their electronic devices are powered up by switching them on.

What gadgets are included? As well as mobile phones and laptops, the DfT guidance includes devices such as electrical shavers, hair-straighteners and cameras or any other camera equipment. No complete list has been provided but the general advice applies anything "with a battery", so other items such as handheld games consoles and e-readers could also be checked. What will happen if my device cannot be switched on? The government guidelines say passengers carrying devices which they cannot switch on "face not being allowed to bring the device onto the aircraft". Passengers would then have to choose between charging the device if possible, leaving it behind (see below) or not getting on their flight. What will happen if I leave an electronic device? Some airlines have outlined ways customers can get their devices back. British Airways said passengers could either keep devices at airports for customers to collect or have them forwarded to another address, at the airline's expense.

Virgin Atlantic has said likewise. EasyJet said it was seeking clarification from the government on the new regulations and had not, so far, issued any specific instructions to passengers. Can I charge my device at the airport? To avoid the risk of missing your flight or having your device taken away, make sure it is fully charged and check that the airport you are travelling from has a charging point. If for any reason you have a device with a flat battery, charging points are available near security in most airports - so if you have enough time before your flight you should be able to charge it up.

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