Lawyer: Heineken killed Dutch business tycoon

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A lawyer representing one of the Netherlands' wealthiest enterpreneurs has accused brewery Heineken of killing his client.

The hospitality magnate, Sjoerd Kooistra, who owns dozens of pubs and restaurants throughout the country, was found dead in his villa early on Monday evening. A police investigation is underway, but no announcements will be made until Tuesday midday, a police spokesperson in the eastern Dutch town of Ubbergen said.

No way out The tycoon's lawyer, Oscar Hammerstein, says that the Heineken brewery claimed Mr Kooistra had a 2 million debt in rent arrears and unpaid bills. His estimate is that Mr Kooistra saw no way out of the conflict with Heineken and probably took his own life. "You could say that Heineken killed Mr Kooistra. This is how the brewer treats its best clients. I am consciously using these hard words," the lawyer told reporters. Mr Kooistra was also involved in financial disputes with Belgian brewer InBev and the Dutch tax authorities.

After six months of negotiations and court cases, Heineken last week put a proposal before Mr Kooistra to settle the debt. The magnate had to give up all his private possessions, including his homes in Groningen, Amsterdam and Ubbergen, as well as his business interests. "He told me he would find his own way out," Mr Hammerstein said.

Spoons Employees and business partners of Mr Kooistra's told reporters that the enterpreneur was an energetic businessman full of initiative. "The first thing Kooistra did when he took over his first restaurant from his parents decades ago was to buy bigger spoons for the soup. He wanted his clients to circulate faster so as to increase turnover," one of them said.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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