Dutch investigators detain nine people, raid CEO home in major fraud probe

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Dutch financial investigators detained at least nine people Tuesday in a massive fraud probe and raided the home of the chief executive of the Netherlands’ second-largest supermarket chain, prosecutors and media reports said.

Law officials swooped upon homes and business premises across the country and arrested a 58-year-old suspect in northeastern Netherlands outside the city of Assen, who prosecutors said was the “mastermind” behind the alleged criminal operation.

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Eight other suspects were also arrested elsewhere in the investigation “which specifically focuses on various money laundering practices,” the Public Prosecution Service (OM) said.

Various Dutch media reported that police also raided the villa of Frits van Eerd, chief executive of the Jumbo supermarket chain which sponsors high-profile sportsmen and women like Formula One world champion Max Verstappen and the Jumbo-Visma cycling and skating teams.

Prosecutors said their probe found that “money was laundered through real estate transactions, car trading, unexplained cash deposits and sponsorship contracts in motocross racing.”

“In addition, there is a suspicion of VAT fraud in the car trade,” the OM added.

Its statement did not name Van Eerd, nor did it say how or if he was involved, following the raid which focused on his villa in the scenic southern Dutch town of Heeswijk-Dinther.

“Several boxes were being taken outside by financial investigators and a car was being searched,” local broadcaster Omroep Brabant reported, showing video of the villa with law enforcement officers on the premises.

The 55-year-old businessman is well-known in the Netherlands, not only for running the supermarket group but also as a motorsport enthusiast who has driven the Dakar Rally five times.

Jumbo sponsors 2021 F1 world champion Verstappen, who is currently also leading in this year’s standings with his Red Bull racing team.

The supermarket group declined to comment when approached by AFP.

Jumbo is the country’s second-largest supermarket chain by market share after Albert Heijn, according to the NielsenIQ market research group.

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