Spanish police said Wednesday they had arrested six people suspected of involvement in fraud totaling $600 million on the London stock market.
The main suspect in the fraud, which began in 2003, is among six people who were arrested in Madrid, Barcelona and the town of Elche in the southeast, they said in a statement.
"Through complex commercial and stock market operations, as well as falsifications, the arrested managed to make the value of the shares of a firm on the stock market increase, without deposits to back it up, and profited from the subsequent sale of the shares," it said.
Police did not name the firm, which was listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange in October 2003, nor given the name or nationalities of six people who were arrested.
The arrests follow the opening of an investigation into the firm by Britain's Serious Fraud Office in 2005.
When the company was listed on the stock market it said it had assets worth €219 million, police said.
It later on announced several financial operations, including a guarantee in the form of an International Certificates of Deposit from a Brazilian bank, "with the aim of generating an increase in the share price of the company.
"The investigation revealed that the listing of the firm on the stock market, as well as the public share listing, was achieved through fraud and various false announcements were made, in specialized media in London, to generate interest in the shares of the company," police said.
"Those announcements were allegedly planned by the main suspects who then sold the shares that they owned or existed in their name," it added.
Police carried out six searches as part of their investigation in which they seized several computers and extensive documentation.