Dutch top business exec. "saw arrest coming" in corruption case

Peter Wakkie
Profile of Peter Wakkie as Chairman of the Supervisory Board at TomTom in 2015.. (photo: TomTom)

Dutch business executive Peter Wakkie was not exactly surprised when he was arrested at Madrid airport in Spain on Monday. "I saw it coming", he said in a telephonic interview with Financieele Dagblad on Thursday. Wakkie was arrested as part of an investigation into a criminal organization, money laundering and bankruptcy fraud, a spokesperson for the Spanish police confirmed to the newspaper. 

The investigation surrounds the Spanish-Russian telecom company ZED+. A Dutch court appointed Wakkie and Sipko Schat interim directos of the company to try and settle disputes between its Spanish and Russian stakeholders. On Monday morning Wakkie was arrested as he arrived in Madrid from the Netherlands. He was taken to an office of the Spanish tax authorities and questioned. The questioning lasted until 8:00 p.m., and after the translation of the official report was worked out and done, he was released just after midnight, according to the newspaper. 

According to news site El Confidencial, Wakkie is suspected of hindering a forensic investigation into suspicious payments to relatives of Russian ministers. These payments were made, according to the news site, by ZED+ subsidiary Temaflon."

In an interview with FD, Wakkie said that he was not really shocked by the arrest. "I saw it coming a little bit." he said. "News website El Confidencial has been writing for some time about a large investigation by Spanish and U.S. authorities. That did not tell me anything But the events of Monday did not surprise me."

Despite having much experience in resolving disputes between companies, ZED+ was a challenge. "It's always personal. That's because it is very difficult in these cases to satisfy everyone. I've always remained neutral, but the Spaniards think I was on the Russians' side."

According to him, the bickering between the shareholders resulted in the Russian shareholders stopping money transfers to the Spanish holding company, and Russia provided most of the money. Wakkie then set up an agreement in which Russia would resume payment, and Spain would stop trying to investigate Temaflon's activities. But Spain soon started insisting on an investigation again.

"Look, you have to be practical. It involves matters of the past and the tent has to survive. Why kill the goose that lays the golden eggs? Then the matter escalated again."

Wakkie told the newspaper that the only reason he did throw in the towel when fellow director Schat did ten months in, is because of a "character flaw". "I want to finish the job." 

The Dutch businessman could not say what the Spanish tax authorities wanted to know from him. He also hasn't yet decided how he will proceed. 

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