Commission worried by Unibet arrest

Commission worried by Unibet arrest
The European Commission expressed concern on Tuesday about the arrest of a chief executive of international online betting firm Unibet, who was picked up on a warrant issued by French authorities.

The arrest, made in the Netherlands, related to proceedings filed by French state-owned lottery Francaise des Jeux and horse betting monopoly PMU alleging that Unibet broke French laws protecting state-owned gambling monopolies.

“This is an issue which we have been informed about, we are worried about, and that in our view somebody might have been arrested who is innocent under (EU) law,” said Oliver Drewes, a spokesman on EU internal market issues.

Petter Nylander, a Swede, was detained by Dutch authorities in Amsterdam late Monday after checking in for a flight to return to his home in Britain, Unibet said in a statement.

“We believe that the French sports betting legislation is not in line with (European) community law,” Oliver Drewes told reporters in Brussels.

Marie Skaninger, an official at the Swedish Justice Ministry, said that under the framework of the European Arrest warrant, “it is for the Dutch courts to decide whether the man should be surrendered” to French authorities.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry said through a spokeswoman that it had offered consular assistance to Nylander.

The French monopoly laws behind his arrest date from 1836 and 1891 and are being challenged by the Commission, the EU’s executive body.

The European Court of Justice has previously stated that it is against EU law to bring criminal proceedings against legitimate operators based in other EU member states, Unibet said.

“We believe that the French legislation which is invoked here is, as such, not compatible with community law, should therefore have been changed,” Drewes said.

He said the Commission believed there could be “no basis for any arrest warrant of any sort anywhere” in this instance.

Unibet is registered in Malta, operates out of Britain and is listed on the Stockholm stock exchange. It claims to have 1.8 million customers in 150 countries.