Unibet chief ‘to be sent to France’

Unibet chief 'to be sent to France'
Photo: Unibet
The Swedish CEO of betting firm Unibet is to be handed over to French authorities next week, a Dutch court has ruled, according to reports from Swedish news agency TT.

The court in Amsterdam said that Petter Nylander, who was arrested on Monday evening, should be released from police custody pending his surrender to France.

“I am happy for Petter. The 48 hours that he has spent in a cell are 48 hours too many,” said Unibet’s chief counsel, Ewout Keelers.

Judge GH van Asperen ruled that Nylander should be handed over to French authorities as soon as possible, after the Swede’s lawyers said they would not contest the French application. Swedish news agency TT reports that the handover should take place on Monday.

“We have always wanted to get this behind us so that Petter can be reunited with his family. We are therefore positive to him going to France to sort this out,” Keelers said.

The judge has ordered Nylander to surrender his passport, in order to prevent him leaving the country before the order to surrender him to France is effected.

Keelers slammed the decision to keep the Swedish businessman in custody.

“You don’t need to put someone in jail in order to get him to answer questions. To arrest him and keep him locked up in a cell is nothing short of Guantanamo treatment,” he said.

Nylander was arrested at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport under a European Arrest Warrant issued by France. French authorities accuse him of breaking laws which protect the country’s state gambling monopoly. But a Dutch judge ruled on Wednesday afternoon that the accusations against Nylander were not sufficiently serious to justify keeping him locked up.

Unibet and lawyers for Nylander have expressed anger at the arrest.

“To use an arrest warrant to protect a gambling monopoly is way beyond what could be viewed as acceptable,” Keelers told TT.

The warrant to arrest Nylander was issued on 19th June, but Unibet says he has travelled widely within the EU between then and his arrest.

Unibet and Sweden members of parliament have questioned the legitimacy of the use of a European Arrest Warrant in the case of Nylander. The warrants were introduced following the September 11th attacks to make it easier to extradite people accused of serious crimes such as terrorism.

Swedish diplomats in the Hague have offered consular help to Nylander, but said they were not getting involved in the case.

“We cannot interfere in the process of justice – this is a European Arrest Warrant that has been issued,” said Ambassdor Hans Magnusson.

But Sweden’s Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, indicated on Wednesday evening that it was not clear that the Nylander case was the kind of crime that should be covered by the warrants.

“This will naturally lead to a discussion about whether this is the kind of alleged crime that they [the European Arrest Warrants] were really intended for,” he said.

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

A spokesman for the European Commission, which has launched a legal challenge to the French betting monopoly, criticised Nylander’s arrest on Tuesday.

“In our view, somebody might have been arrested who is innocent under (EU) law,” Oliver Drewes, a spokesman on EU internal market issues, told reporters in Brussels.

“We believe that the French sports betting legislation is not in line with (European) community law.”

TT/AFP/The Local