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Spain arrests 30 suspected of laundering money in bitcoin centers

A Bitcoin (virtual currency) coin is seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris July 11, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish police said on Wednesday they had arrested 30 people suspected of illegally distributing pay television content and of laundering the proceeds by investing in bitcoin “mining” centers for processing transactions in the digital currency, which use intensive computing power to generate more bitcoins.

The arrests took place across Spain, including in the cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Cordoba, police said in a statement.

Six bitcoin “mining” centers were seized in the raid, they added, after an investigation alongside Spain’s tax office that started as a crackdown on a scheme to illegally decode and distribute pay-TV content.

The proceeds were allegedly laundered through investments in banking products, luxury cars, property as well as Bitcoin centers.

Police said the bitcoin “mining” operations had also been fraudulently using vast amounts of electricity to keep their computing systems running.

They did not say how much money had been laundered through the bitcoin mining operation but added they had for now seized 31,320 euros ($34,903) worth of the currency as well as cash, motorbikes and luxury cars and a small aircraft.

($1 = 0.8973 euros)

Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Greg Mahlich