Pancho Campo MW has stepped down as director of the Wine Future Rioja conference next month and resigned as president of the Spanish Wine Academy.
Kevin Zraly of New York’s Windows on the World wine school, and a highly respected wine critic and writer, has taken over as chair of the conference, at which Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson MW, and Decanter’s consultant editor Steven Spurrier are due to appear.
Campo’s brother-in-law Rony Bacqué will replace him as president of the academy.
The beleagured Campo (pictured) has been embroiled in a complex battle with authorities in Dubai for the last few weeks, after a Madrid journalist came across a type of arrest warrant or ‘location notice’ for him on the Interpol website.
The warrant relates to a 2002 complaint brought by former business partner Jackie Wartanian to do with a fee paid to singer Enrique Iglesias. At the time Campo ran a sports and music promotion company in Dubai.
It now appears that in June 2003 in Dubai Campo was found guilty in absentia of breach of trust and given a one-year custodial sentence followed by deportation.
Campo vehemently denies knowing anything about the sentence. He told decanter.com the first he heard about it was when it was published in an article in Dubai newspaper The National on 19 September.
Before he left Dubai in February 2003, Campo knew Wartanian had filed a complaint claiming that US$1m had been misused, he said, but his lawyer had told him simply to inform the embassy of his new address, which he did.
‘The case was tried and I was sentenced in my absence without any legal representation,’ Campo told decanter.com.
His lawyer in Dubai told him nothing about the sentence, Campo said, and they have since lost touch. He added that he would not be suing the lawyer because he was ‘in no mood to do anything like that’.
Campo admitted that he had spent two hours in French immigration at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris in March, in a ‘routine passport check’, during which the Interpol warrant was mentioned.
‘That was the first idea I had about the Interpol warrant. They kept me for about two hours and then apologised. They advised me to get a lawyer.’
Campo said that he resigned his posts at the Wine Academy, of which he owns 25% with the rest owned by his wife and her family, because he had to ‘focus on clearing his name’.
‘I don’t want any damage done to the Wine Academy. My lawyers in Washington and in Spain are finding out exactly what happened and are confident that they will have resolved the situation by November.’
He also insists that no pressure to resign was put on him by the Rioja Consejo Regulador, which is funding one third of the conference.
The government of Rioja is providing the venue for free.
Campo said, ‘The conference is still 100%. The speakers are all on board and we have just taken on two new sponsors, JF Hillebrand, and Enerterra, a renewable energy company.’
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Written by Adam Lechmere, and Jim Budd