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Supermarket ending most motorsport sponsorship amid money laundering investigation


Supermarket chain Jumbo is putting a stop to most motorsport sponsorship and is conducting a critical review of how it handled motorsport sponsorship in the past and present.

The company does not yet intend on stopping the sponsorship of Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen, a Jumbo spokesperson confirmed after the story was reported by newspaper AD.

Jumbo's sponsorship of motorsport was discredited light last year due to the investigation by the Public Prosecution Service (OM) into Jumbo CEO Frits van Eerd.

  • Frits van Eerd was arrested in September as a suspect in a money laundering case.

The OM previously said that the money laundering was carried out through real estate transactions, the automotive trade, and sponsorship in motocross.

Ton van Veen, who is temporarily heading up the company, emphasized earlier in the day that the OM's investigation still is not focusing on Jumbo itself.

The company nevertheless commissioned an independent investigation into the sponsorship activities.

This investigation has now been completed and, according to Jumbo, no criminal offenses or irregularities within the group have emerged.

It is not clear what Jumbo's decision to say goodbye to motorsport means for athletes who have been supported up until now.

Jumbo's spokesperson did not want to give any additional explanation when asked. She also could not say why Jumbo is turning its back on those sports.

Jumbo is very active in the sports world as a sponsor, including with Verstappen, who is the two-time Formula 1 world champion.

Jumbo also sponsors a combined skating and cycling team, Jumbo-Visma, motocross rider Jeffrey Herlings, and various motorsports teams, football clubs and billiards tournaments.

The supermarket chain also released an annual report on Tuesday, saying it planned to again invest heavily in the Belgian market.

  • "We are going to open around ten new stores there," Van Veen said. The company opened 27 branches in Belgium over the past few years.

The Belgium market comprised of over 200 million euros out of Jumbo's total turnover, which exceeded 10 billion euros last year. Revenue in Belgium doubled last year alone.

The negative publicity surrounding Frits van Eerd, who stepped down as a suspect in the major money laundering case, had no influence on income.

  • "Reputationally, it affected us. On the other hand, we see that our customers have remained overwhelmingly loyal" said Van Veen.

It is unclear what will happen to Van Eerd, who temporarily stepped down during the money laundering case.

  • "Frits as a person is still a suspect, we have to wait and see what comes out of the investigation."
  • Whether Van Eerd will ever return to Jumbo is still unknown. "Still too early to say anything about that," he said.

Reporting by ANP


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