LIVE UPDATES: Spanish police arrested prominent Dutch corporate lawyer Peter Wakkie, at the Madrid Airport as part of an investigation into the insolvency of the Russian-Spanish telecoms firm ZED+. The story attracted more interest because Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman has an interest in ZED+ and is also mentioned in the Trump “kompromat” dossier.
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On January 16, Reuters published a story (updated January 17) that Spanish police had arrested a prominent Dutch corporate lawyer, Peter Wakkie, at the Madrid Airport as part of an investigation into the insolvency of the Russian-Spanish telecoms firm ZED+.
The story attracted more interest because Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman has an interest in ZED+, and has also been named in the Trump “kompromat” [compromising material] dossier as one of the top figures involved in the Russian campaign to influence the US elections.
But after his release, Wikkie told Reuters that the charges were “fake” and that “Police were not clear about the charges,” Reuters reported.
As Svoboda notes, El Confidencial is the main source for this story. Wakkie was made acting manager of ZED+ when the previous co-president and CEO, Javier Perez Dolset, was removed from the corporation’s board of managers after the London Court of International Arbitration found in 2015 that he had forged documents.
Dolset denied any wrongdoing, and in fact accuses Wakkie of financial crimes for moving 30 million euros from Temafon, the Russian affiliate of ZED+ which caused a financial crisis for the Spanish joint venture and its virtual bankruptcy. Wakkie in turn accused the Spaniards of hindering the free sale of the company to Chinese investors, which was to be in the interest of VimpelCom, a Dutch-registered holding company founded by a Russian scientist, with telecommunication shares in the CIS, Europe, Asia and Africa, including in Vimpel-Communications, a Russian company. VimpelCom is controlled by Fridman, who resides in London. El Confidencial‘s sources say Wakkie had agreed with ZED+ creditors to acquire the holding for a song. Dolset said his personal computer was hacked and his telephone monitored to find out details of his personal life to use to pressure him.
What does this all add up to? A lot of smoke with no fire, so far. Why would Spanish authorities make such a dramatic arrest of a Dutch lawyer related to Russian business, only to let him go within a day?
Spanish prosecutors have been successful in prosecuting the Russian mafia, but only up to a point; last year, Spain issued 12 warrants for figures close to Putin, including Vladislav Reznik, a prominent MP in the ruling United Russia party and his wife, Diana Gindin. They sought the arrest of Nikolai Aulov, deputy head of Russia’s federal narcotics service and Igor Sobelevsky, former deputy head of the Investigative Committee.
But the Spanish prosecutors have not been able to arrest those targeted, and the prosecution has come at a price; Alexander Litvinenko the former FSB agent who was killed by polonium, had helped the Spanish prosecutors to chase down Russian mafia figures, which is believed to be the motivation for the “probable” order by Putin to assassinate him, as the London High Court ruled.
The Forward said Fridman had close ties to both Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu — not mentioned in Slate.
When discussing the servers, people think of funds being wired and Trump’s failure to submit his income taxes and possible infusions of cash from Russia. But the server activity could in fact be only conversation — of the kind indicated in the dossier related to Putin’s ultimate plans to influence the elections.
But in the end, Wakkie’s brief arrest is only one more odd fact in the growing collection of coincidences around Trump, to be filed away until some other thread can be pulled.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick