Saturday, April 23, 2005

Gibraltar Officials move to quash Banking arrest rumours

Gibraltar Government moved quickly to quash unfounded reports that claimed a Gibraltar banker had been arrested in connection with ‘Operacion Ballena Blanca’ in Spain - a major money laundering case.

Europa Sur carried a detailed and correct report that a Spanish banker called Antonio Flores was arrested but other media, including El Mundo, relied on what appears to a faulty Spanish Interior Ministry (Ministerio de Interior) statement.

No 6 issued a statement also widely circulated to the Spanish media in which it stated that, contrary to reports attributed in Spanish media to the Spanish police, “no director, manager or other employee of any bank in Gibraltar has been detained by the Spanish Police.

If the Spanish police wish to continue with these false statements they should be challenged to publish the name of the individual concerned and the name of the Gibraltar bank. Their failure to do so will confirm the veracity of this statement.”

Asked to comment, Roy Clinton president of the Gibraltar Bankers’ Association did not conceal the annoyance felt in the trade, which spent much of yesterday trying to establish the facts after the rumour spun round the world on the internet.

"The Gibraltar Bankers’ Association is appalled at the incorrect reports appearing in the Spanish media suggesting that a Gibraltar bank director had been arrested in Spain in connection with operation ‘White Whale’,” he said.

Mr Clinton said that the banking community in Gibraltar operates to the highest regulatory standards and takes any allegations of money laundering very seriously.

“We have no notice of any Gibraltar Bank director having been arrested. In the absence of any evidence we can only conclude that there has been some error of communication to the media from the Spanish authorities.”

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