Dutch businessman questioned in blackmail case

25th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

25 January 2005, AMSTERDAM — Former Dutch entrepreneur Erik de Vlieger was arrested on Monday on suspicion he was involved in a blackmail case allegedly linked to murdered real estate magnate Willem Endstra.

25 January 2005

AMSTERDAM — Former Dutch entrepreneur Erik de Vlieger was arrested on Monday on suspicion he was involved in a blackmail case allegedly linked to murdered real estate magnate Willem Endstra.

Endstra frequently denied claims in the media that he was a "banker of the underworld".

De Vlieger — who recently announced his intention to sell his business interests due to persistent, negative publicity about criminal investigations into his business empire — was questioned at the Amsterdam police headquarters on Monday. Police also searched the office of Imca Vastgoed, the real estate company formerly run by De Vlieger.

The authorities have refused to comment on the case to the Dutch media, but De Vlieger's lawyer, Frits Schneider, said the millionaire had voluntarily reported to police, newspaper De Volkskrant reported. De Vlieger denies all allegations of wrongdoing.

It was not immediately clear if De Vlieger — who owns the English-language newspaper The Amsterdam Times — was allowed to return home on Monday night. A public prosecution spokesman also refused to comment on this when contacted by Expatica on Tuesday morning.

Police are reportedly investigating a case in which De Vlieger, Endstra and top criminal Willem Holleeder allegedly demanded repayments from a financially struggling café located on the Leidseplein in the Dutch capital's city centre, news service NOS reported.

De Vlieger had invested money in a café, Raffle's, in 2001, but later demanded repayment of his cash after poor turnover results. The café owner claims De Vlieger took over the business under the threat of violence. The owner also claims to have been blackmailed by De Vlieger's contacts. He lodged a police report two years ago.

The café has since been taken over by controversial entrepreneur Sjoerd Kooistra. Amsterdam Council has in the past accused Kooistra of deliberately running other cafés into the ground for financial gain. He has since promised to become personally financially liable for future bankruptcies.

Police recently arrested De Vlieger's business partner and director of his embattled airline Dutchbird, Harm P., on suspicion of money laundering, forgery and fraud. P. is also under suspicion in the blackmail case, but De Vlieger claims he is innocent of any wrongdoing and has cut all ties with his former business partner.

The 45-year-old De Vlieger announced earlier this month that he could no longer continue as a businessman due to constant negative rumours about his activities. He also cited raids by the tax office for his decision to withdraw from the business world.

The owner of 125 companies concentrated in the real estate, media and aviation sectors, De Vlieger said he intended to sell all divisions to the current management. He will remain as a shareholder of Exel Aviation Group, which owns Dutchbird, but resigned immediately from his real estate company Imca Group.

Inquiries are not reportedly directed at the management of the Imca Group and the company co-operated fully with the raid on its office on Monday. The inquiry is focusing on De Vlieger's earlier activities, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

Endstra was shot and killed in Amsterdam in May last year. Described by some as the "banker of the underworld", the real estate tycoon always denied criminal activities. Holleeder is best known for his involvement in the 1983 kidnapping of the now deceased Dutch beer magnate, Freddie Heineken.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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