January 16, 2017 / 12:38 PM / 3 years ago

Prominent Dutch lawyer Wakkie arrested in Spain in telecoms insolvency probe: source

(Corrects JAN 16 story to show LetterOne does not hold majority stake in Vimpelcom, paragraph 12)

By Angus Berwick and Toby Sterling

MADRID/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Spanish police arrested prominent Dutch corporate lawyer Peter Wakkie at Madrid airport on Monday in an investigation into the insolvency of Russian-Spanish telecom firm ZED+, a judicial source said.

A spokesman for Wakkie, who is ZED+’s interim manager, said he could not immediately comment on the arrest at Barajas Airport after a flight from the Netherlands, where the company is domiciled.

The source from the Spanish investigation said Spain’s anti-corruption prosecutor’s office was seeking to charge Wakkie with belonging to a criminal organisation and making false claims of insolvency.

The source, speaking anonymously to confirm a report in news outlet El Confidencial, declined to elaborate on either charge and said the proceedings were secret.

Further calls to Wakkie’s spokesman on the charges went unanswered. A spokeswoman for the Spanish High Court declined to comment on the arrest.

Wakkie was named interim top manager of ZED+ by the Amsterdam Commercial Court in November 2014 pending an inquiry into the company’s previous management, whose infighting had brought it close to bankruptcy, according to Dutch court documents.

In February 2016, the court suspended ZED+ Co-President and Chief Executive Javier Perez Dolset from its board of managers after the London Court of International Arbitration found in 2015 that he had forged documents, the court documents show.

Dolset and an associate named in the UK hearing denied any wrongdoing or fraud.

Dolset, whose family founded the Zed group, remains in control of Spain-based Zed Worldwide, in which ZED+ has a controlling stake. A Zed spokeswoman in Spain did not respond to emails and phone calls from Reuters and Dolset did not respond to a message sent on Linkedin.

ZED+ controlled 379 million euros in assets in 2014 and reported 10.1 million euros of profit on 385 million euros of sales, according to a filing with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.

The Dolset family has a 30 percent stake in the firm through their holding company Wisdom, the documents show, plus additional smaller stakes via several other firms.

The investigation source said the arrest was not related to an ongoing U.S.-Spanish investigation into Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, whose investment vehicle Letter One indirectly holds a small stake in ZED+. LetterOne owns 47.85 percent of Vimpelcom, and Vimpelcom has a 5.32 percent stake in ZED+, according to Dutch court filings.

Reporting by Angus Berwick in Madrid and Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; Editing by Paul Day, Julien Toyer/Mark Heinrich

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