x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Spanish promoter's arrest sought

The former Dubai resident left the country before his conviction on breach of trust charges brought by his business partner.

Spanish superstar Enrique Iglesias performs during a concert at thThe arrest warrant for Francisco Campo was in relation to a show of the Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias, above, in Dubai.
Spanish superstar Enrique Iglesias performs during a concert at thThe arrest warrant for Francisco Campo was in relation to a show of the Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias, above, in Dubai.

A warrant has been posted on the Interpol website for the arrest of a Spanish concert promoter who was convicted in Dubai in 2003 of breach of trust after a falling-out with his business partner. Francisco Campo, 48, was convicted in his absence following a wrangle with the former partner, Jackie Wartanian.

The pair had run an events organising company in Dubai, Connection Sports Management (CSM), and fell out after a dispute over financing in 2002 following a CSM-organised concert that year in Dubai by the Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias. According to court documents, Campo was charged with breach of trust on June 5, 2002, found guilty on June 1, 2003, and sentenced to one year in jail followed by deportation. The case revolved around a ?600,000 (Dh3.2m) claim that Ms Wartanian had brought against Campo over fraudulent business dealings. Ms Wartanian's lawyer, Amna Jallaf, said a civil case had also been filed against Campo.

"Ms Wartanian gave him around US$1m (Dh3.67m) on the understanding he would manage and run the business," Ms Jallaf said. "He took all the money and disappeared." The arrest warrant was published by Interpol after papers were filed on September 8 this year. In a telephone interview, Campo's wife, Melissa, 40, said the couple were unaware of the legal proceedings at the time they left the company and the UAE, in February 2003. Campo is reported to have said that ?600,000 was used to pay the Spanish singer, although there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of Mr Iglesias.

"We had no idea there was a court case when we left the UAE," Mrs Campo said. "We only found out there was an arrest warrant about two months ago. It came as a complete shock. "We left Dubai in February 2003 with a valid passport and informed the authorities we were leaving." Campo now lives in Spain and is director of Wine Future, a popular conference. It is next due to be held in November, and wine critics such as Oz Clarke and Steven Spurrier are expected to attend.

Mrs Campo said the dispute centred on Ms Wartanian's purchase of shares in CSM in 2000. The company struggled in the years following the September 11 attacks in New York in 2001 because fewer westerners wanted to visit the Middle East at that time. She said Ms Wartanian later wanted to leave the company and asked that Campo buy out her shares in the firm, but that he refused. "When you invest in a company, you take a chance that the company is going to do well," Mrs Campo said.

"If it doesn't do well, then you don't just ask for your money back. "We definitely don't owe her any money. We are speaking to lawyers in Washington. They believe the case may contravene international law." There is no extradition treaty between the UAE and Spain, although an agreement has been drafted and is due to be signed by representatives from both countries in the coming months. A spokesman for the Spanish embassy in Abu Dhabi said the lack of a formal treaty would not necessarily prevent Campo from being deported should UAE authorities lodge a formal request.

The businessman launched a company called Connections Sports Services in 1997, which later became Connections Sports and Music in 1999 and then Centre Stage Management. Under the different names the firm managed sports and rock events with a host of internationally renowned stars such as the tennis players Andre Agassi and Stefan Edberg, and the music entertainers Pink Floyd and Sting. Ms Jallaf said she had been in touch with Campo's lawyers, who she said were "looking to resolve matters in connection with the case".

chamilton@thenational.ae * With additional reporting by Awad Mustafa