Unibet CEO speaks about French arrest


Petter Nylander, Unibet Group Plc. CEO, spoke to media Thursday about his arrest and the online gambling company's situation in France. He was released on bail Wednesday and returned to London to resume his role with the company.

Nylander was detained in Amsterdam last week after a French judge issued a European warrant for his arrest.

The warrant was issued as part of proceedings filled in 2006 by Française des Jeux and PMU, two French gambling monopolies, against Unibet. The suit alleges that Unibet is in breach of French national laws that protect state-owned monopolies.

After he didn't respond to a summons issued in April by a court in Nanterre, the warrant was issued for Nylander's arrest.

Française des Jeux said in a statement earlier this week that Nylander wouldn't have been arrested had he attended his original summons request.

In an eGaming Review article, Unibet's legal counsel Ewout Keuleers said, "We were willing to attend but if you (the French) tell us that we will, almost by default, be put in jail for 48 hours, then we had to re-evaluate the situation. So we did not attend, that is true, but we always said we wanted to talk with them."

Keuleers also said the legal case is in its very early stages, with Nylander currently under formal investigation. Formal investigation is one step shy of being charged with something and doesn't necessarily mean he will go to trial.

Nylander said during his press conference Thursday that he doesn't believe the French laws apply to Unibet, which operates online betting and casino sites as well as Unibet Poker. Not only is the company completely based outside of France, the laws being applied were created more than 100 years ago.

"The laws that are [being] used against me in France are from 1836 and 1891 ... before the European Union was created, before the Internet was created," he said during the news conference. "Those national laws are obsolete."

Nylander commented that in the last 20 years, several commercial sectors in Europe have been transformed from tough state monopolies to open competition to benefit European consumers, including airlines, broadcast media and telecom.

"This is just another monopoly going down, painfully," he said, according to an AFP article. "However, I'm not aware of a monopoly going down throwing competitors in prison. We need to stop this harassment of companies."

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