LONDON, May 18 -- British police confirmed Thursday they had arrested three people in connection with an investigation into alleged laundering of 32 million pounds ($50 million) from organized crime in Russia. The 18-month investigation found the three, who were released Tuesday on police bail, allegedly used reputable financial institutions to move the money around. 'We've got a lot of intelligence but we've got to have hard evidence,' said Jackie Bennett, a police spokeswoman. 'It's a matter of going through the files and documents with a fine-toothed comb to get it. It probably won't be until September before we call the three in again.' Police detectives raided the London offices of Minneapolis-based law firm Faegre & Benson on Tuesday and arrested the two British partners and the wife of one of them. The trio have not been charged and therefore cannot be named. Bennett said the three people were believed to have funneled as much as $50 million from Russian organized crime rings to a company in Britain's Channel Islands, off the northern coast of France, with an additional amount laundered through banks in Britain. 'They apparently used some well-respected, well-known financial institutions, including a high street bank, to move this money around,' Bennett said. She said detectives had started to investigate the lawyers before they joined Faegre -- a total of 18 months leading up to the arrest -- linking a team of people to financial activities in Austria, Canada, the Channel Islands, the Czech Republic, Moscow, London and the United States.
Thomas Crosby, chairman of Faegre's management committee in Minneapolis, told the Wall Street Journal Europe that the firm was looking into the police's investigations. Crosby said the police had told him that they concerned with the two partners and not the firm itself. The National Criminal Intelligence Service led the investigation into what was Britain's first large-scale police operation involving alleged money-laundering. If charges were laid down then it would be the first court case of its kind in the country.