Jumbo supermarket CEO will remain in jail this weekend in money laundering case
Frits van Eerd, the 55-year-old CEO of supermarket Jumbo, will remain in jail for at least the next few days as a suspect in a money laundering case, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) said on Friday. His detention was reviewed by the examining magistrate in Assen on Friday afternoon, and was extended by the public prosecutor for a maximum of three days.
Police detained many suspects in the case during raids this week, including a 58-year-old man from the municipality of Aa en Hunze, Drenthe, who was believed to be the main suspect in the case. He is suspected of involvement in laundering large amounts of money and goods, as well as value added tax fraud. The suspect was identified by various media outlets as Theo E. from Gasteren, a village within Aa en Hunze. His home was also reportedly raided. He is said to be active as a team manager within motorcycle racing and in the past he was the team leader of the Jumbo TvE MX team, which Van Eerd sponsored.
The money laundering happened through real estate transactions, automotive trading, unexplained cash deposits and sponsorship contracts in the motocross sporting world, according to the Public Prosecution Service. In addition, there is a suspicion of VAT fraud within the car trade. The main suspect was considered to be a spider within a web, the OM previously said. The co-defendants are accused of having been involved in the fraud to a greater or lesser extent.
Jumbo has a number of sports sponsorship deals, including the Jumbo-Visma cycling and skating teams. Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen also has a sponsorship deal with the supermarket chain.
The examining magistrate decided on Friday to extend the pre-trial detention of the 58-year-old primary suspect by 14 days. Additionally, Van Eerd and another Gasteren resident, identified only as a 57-year-old woman, was also being interrogated by the financial crimes inspectorate FIOD and the police. Like the main suspect, they are still in restricted custody, which means that they can only have contact with their lawyer, according to the Public Prosecution Service.
Five suspects in this case were released from custody but still remain suspected of criminal activity, the OM said on Friday. They were identified as a 48-year-old woman from Gasteren, a 50-year-old woman from Assen, a 33-year-old man from Assen, a 46-year-old man from Assen, and a 68-year-old man from Rosmalen. Prosecutors said a day earlier that a 33-year-old from Assen, who was still suspected of criminality, was released from jail for the time being.
On Tuesday, searches were carried out in several places in the Netherlands in a joint investigation by FIOD, the Public Prosecution Service, police, and other agencies. Raids took place in Van Eerd's home in Heeswijk-Dinther, but also in locations in the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe. According to the Financieele Dagblad, the home of the 58-year-old main suspect was also seized.
Jumbo will soon release a statement about the situation, a spokesperson said. Jumbo said that the company was not involved in the case, and would not say what the investigation means for Van Eerd's position as CEO. The supermarket chain’s management team is handling the day-to-day business operations in Van Eerd's absence.
Reporting by ANP