Alexander Torshin,
Prominent figure from Russia, Alexander Torshin, pictured here in 2005, is implicated in a report by Spanish authorities into alleged money laundering via properties in Spain in claims which he deniesGetty

A high-ranking Russian politician described as a "godfather" figure helped Moscow-based mobsters launder money through banks and properties in Spain, according to Spanish investigators.

When he was deputy speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament, the Spanish Civil Guard alleges that Alexander Torshin had helped the Taganskaya crime syndicate launder its profits.

The authorities' report refers to the United Russia senator's ties to the alleged Taganskaya leader in Spain, Alexander Romanov, who was jailed in May for illegal transactions worth 1.65m euros (£1.4m; $1.82m).

The report, which was compiled over three years and was seen by Bloomberg, stated: "Within the hierarchical structure of the organization, it's known that Russian politician Alexander Porfirievich Torshin stands above Romanov, who calls him 'godfather' or 'boss' and conducts 'activities and investments on his behalf".

The findings were based on recordings made between Torshin and Romanov in 2012 and 2013, as well as documents seized in a raid on a villa in Majorca that Romanov owned at the time.

Prosecutors say the documents show how Torshin petitioned Russian law enforcement officials on behalf of the Taganskaya mob's violent takeover of the plush Univermag Moskva department store, whose proceeds were linked to Romanov.

Torshin said responding to requests for assistance was part of his job and that his ties to Romanov are purely social. He said he simply has a wide network of contacts, including the US, where he is a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

St Petersburg-based network

A senior Spanish official told Bloomberg it would not be worth prosecuting Torshin because Moscow did not cooperate in cases involving its high-ranking officials. However this has not stopped authorities in the country probing numerous suspected Spanish links to Russian criminal networks.

A Spanish judge investigating Russian mafia networks in May issued an arrest warrant for 12 Russian high-level officials, including Vladislav Reznik, deputy head of the State Duma's finance committee, and General Nikolai Aulov, the deputy director of the Federal Drug Control Service.

Another Russian syndicate, the St Petersburg-based Tambovskaya group, has also been investigated by Spanish prosecutors, who accused the group of laundering criminal proceeds in Spain.

According to a WikiLeaks cable published in 2010, the judge Jose Grinda, told US officials that Russian president Vladimir Putin ran a "virtual mafia" state where criminal activity is indistinguishable from government activity.