Unibet's Nylander Detained on French Warrant

23 October 2007

Unibet CEO Petter Nylander was on Monday detained by Dutch authorities under an arrest warrant issued by French authorities.

Unibet said that the arrest stemmed from proceedings filed in 2006 by the state-owned tandem of Fran├žaise des Jeux (FDJ) and Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU), alleging certain of Unibet's activities contravened French statutes dating to 1836 and 1891, respectively.

Talking to IGN, Inga Lundberg, who heads investor relations at the group, said Nylander was in Amsterdam Monday for a meeting.

"When he came to the airport last night to take a flight back to London, went he went through passport control, they asked him to step aside and said, 'We have a European arrest warrant--we have to keep you here,'" Lundberg said. "He was of course very surprised."

Lundberg said that Nylander is still being held by the Dutch authorities, and that the group's legal counsel has been with him since last evening.

"There have been a lot of meetings today with Dutch authorities to see if they can sort this out," Lundberg said. "Also, our French lawyers have had a lot of meetings with the French authorities to see what can be done on the French side in order to release Petter immediately.

"It is unacceptable and extraordinary to take this kind of action," she added.

The Times reports Nylander is scheduled to appear before a judge tomorrow in a closed hearing as the Amsterdam prosecutor's office seeks to extend his detention, though a source with the European Commission told the paper that "instructions were given to drop the proceedings."

In a press conference in Brussels today, Bloomberg reports, Oliver Drewes, a spokesman for the European Commission's internal market unit, said: "We believe that the French legislation which is invoked here is, as such, not compatible with community law, should therefore have been changed and could therefore be also no basis for any arrest warrant of any sort, anywhere. It could very well be that somebody has been arrested who is innocent.''

However, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, France's minister of European affairs, called detentions of this kind consistent with internal market rules but said that he was not familiar with the particulars of Nylander's case.

"It's perfectly in consistence with the internal market when you have different legislation,'' Jouyet told reporters at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France today. `"If your legislation is not respected by people in this regard, you have through the police cooperation between the different countries the means to have a mandate against these people.''

Bloomberg also reports that an anonymous source in France's Budget Ministry has indicated that the French state will not pursue the charges and will instead ask the FDJ and PMU to drop their complaint.

Lundberg said that the company was aware of the possibility of French action but was surprised given "what has happened on the EU level."

Unibet CFO Ragnar Hellenius has been appointed acting CEO.

Shares in the Stockholm-listed group were down SEK 2.00, or 0.96 percent, to SEK 207.00.

Chris Krafcik is the editor of IGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Mo.