Frits van Eerd is arguably the most influential person in Dutch motorsport. Through sponsorship from his family’s supermarket chain, Van Eerd has also financially backed the early careers of many promising Dutch drivers, including Max Verstappen, the reigning Formula 1 World Champion. The executive is now implicated in a money laundering investigation by Dutch authorities. The illicit activities are believed to be partly carried out through sponsorship contracts.
Earlier today, Dutch law enforcement conducted searches in several locations across three Dutch provinces. The raids were carried out by the police in coordination with the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD), a Dutch government agency responsible for investigating financial crimes. A home owned by Frits van Eerd and a car at Jumbo headquarters were searched by authorities.
Openbaar Ministerie (OM), the Dutch public prosecution service, released a statement announcing that it has arrested a 58-year-old man as the main suspect and mastermind of the alleged money laundering scheme. Prosecutors believe that money was laundered through real estate transactions, car trading, unexplained cash deposits and motocross sponsorship contracts.
Eight other alleged co-conspirators were also brought into custody. It is not known if the 55-year-old Van Eerd was arrested. The OM statement read, “The prime suspect is seen as the spider in the web. The co-defendants are accused of being involved in these acts to a greater or lesser extent.”
Frits van Eerd is the CEO of Jumbo, the second-largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands. Van Eerd Groothandel, a grocery wholesaler, was founded by his grandfather in 1921. Karel van Eerd, his father, acquired Jumbo in the early 1980s and grew the brand using marketing tactics similar to Walmart in the United States. However, Jumbo grew to the major company it is today after Frits van Eerd became its director in 2002.
Outside of his business activities, Frits van Eerd has a long career in motorsport both as a driver and team owner. Most notably, he is an owner-driver at Racing Team Nederland alongside former F1 driver Jan Lammers. Van Eerd has raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the 12 Hours of Sebring. He has also competed in the Dakar Rally and raced vintage cars at the Historic Monaco Grand Prix.
Away from Van Eerd’s racing endeavors, Jumbo is a prominent sponsor of Dutch competitors. The brand was the first personal sponsor of Max Verstappen in 2013 and still sponsors the Dutch F1 champion. The supermarket chain is also a long-time sponsor of Nyck de Vries, the current Formula E World Champion, and two-time MXGP World Champion Jeffrey Herlings. However, Jumbo’s sponsorships of motocross events are likely under scrutiny. Jumbo has stated that the investigation has nothing to do with the company itself.