Dutch court grants bail to online betting chief

25th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

25 October 2007, THE HAGUE (AFP) - A Dutch court granted conditional bail Wednesday to the head of international online betting firm Unibet, who was arrested a day earlier on a French warrant, court sources said.

25 October 2007

THE HAGUE (AFP) - A Dutch court granted conditional bail Wednesday to the head of international online betting firm Unibet, who was arrested a day earlier on a French warrant, court sources said.

Swedish national Petter Nylander had to hand over his passport and was forbidden from leaving Dutch territory pending the receipt of a French request for his extradition, said the Amsterdam prosecutors' office.

But at the closed hearing Wednesday, the judge decided not to keep him in detention.

Dutch military police detained Nylander at Schipol airport on Tuesday.

France issued a European arrest warrant after he failed to respond to a summons from a court in the northern French city of Nanterre.

That warrant was issued after France's state-owned lottery company Francaise des Jeux lodged a formal complaint that Unibet was in breach of French laws protecting the state-owned gambling monopolies.

But a spokesman for the European Commission, which has launched a legal challenge to the French betting monopoly, criticised Nylander's arrest Tuesday.

"In our view, somebody might have been arrested who is innocent under (EU) law," Oliver Drewes, a spokesman on EU internal market issues, told reporters in Brussels.

"We believe that the French sports betting legislation is not in line with (European) community law."

Unibet's deputy CEO Ragnar Hellenius said in a statement on the company's website: "Petter is obviously very tired and the detention has not been pleasant.

"He is still in the good mood and wants to be released in order for him to join his family."

They hoped he would be transferred to France immediately and that a French court would quickly release him without charge, he added.

The European Court of Justice has previously stated that it is against EU law to bring criminal proceedings against legitimate operators based in other EU member states.

Unibet on Tuesday expressed its outrage at what it called France's "total disregard" of European Community law.

The company is registered in Malta, operated out of Britain and listed on the Stockholm stock exchange. It claims to have 1.8 million customers in 150 countries.

AFP

Subject: French news

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