The Albanian Greek Thanas B. (52) will stand trial in the court in Rotterdam on Wednesday on suspicion of directing a courier network that moved almost 500 million euros in cash for criminals. B. was arrested by the Greek police in June 2023 at the request of the Dutch authorities. In August he was extradited to the Netherlands.
Thanas B. is considered a big fish within the underground banking network. According to the authorities, he allegedly gave orders from Greece via the decrypted chat application Threema to collect and deliver a total of 500 million euros in cash in the Netherlands.
Clean criminal record
Follow the Money writes that Thanas B. is not a total stranger to the Albanian police. In the coastal town of Agioi Saranda, where his roots lie, the police know that he maintains close contacts with drug smugglers. His name appears in several investigations, but he has a clean criminal record in both Albania and Greece. In 2010 he moved to Greece where many Albanians live. According to Greek media, he invested his money in a Canadian company.
In B.’s luxury apartment in the seaside resort of Glyfada, near Athens, the Greek police found expensive watches and large sums of cash in nine different currencies.
According to the investigative authorities, Thanas B. is one of the larger players in the network of criminal underground bankers. This would appear from a stream of decrypted chat messages from communication services Anom and Threema that investigators from the Underground Banking Taskforce unraveled. According to the American FBI, he controlled a network of couriers in the Netherlands under the username ‘KKY’.
Follow the Money writes that the couriers mainly work from office buildings on industrial estates in the Randstad, and collect or deliver money for criminals in the Netherlands. For example, bags containing money were transported in hidden spaces of cars or vans. In 2021, the police already arrested a group of cash couriers in The Hague, Delft, Leidschendam and Amsterdam. These couriers are on trial in a long-running investigation, in which Thanas B. plays a major role, but has not yet been officially charged.
In addition to Thanas B., 55-year-old Arnold van B. from The Hague will also be tried in a separate preliminary hearing on Wednesday. He is said to have chatted encrypted with the Albanian Greek under the names ‘painterPicaso Picasso’ and ‘painterpainterpainter’. Van B. is said to have acted as a money courier for the network a total of sixteen times and to have collected a total of 1 million euros in cash in a parking lot at a busy pancake restaurant in Blaricum. Another resident of The Hague is also said to have been sent as a money courier from Greece under the name ‘Old man 2’.
Last month, a 43-year-old man was arrested in Rijswijk who, according to the Public Prosecution Service, was probably a courier for Thanas B. It also recently emerged that, at the request of the Netherlands, another suspect was arrested in the United Arab Emirates on September 26, 2023 in an investigation by the Underground Banking Task Force.
‘Underground banking difficult for the Public Prosecution Service to tackle’