Pancho Campo MW, director of the prestigious Wine Future Rioja conference, is the subject of an arrest warrant on the Interpol website.
Wine Future takes place in Rioja in November, with international wine critics and writers including Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson MW, Oz Clarke, Steven Spurrier and other celebrities of the wine world due to speak.
The warrant, issued in Dubai, relates to an alleged fraud in that country. Campo, 47, and his lawyers, are emphatic that the matter concerns a business deal and is a purely civil matter.
decanter.com understands the charges relate to a court case in Dubai that began in 2002, in which Campo is accused of fraud involving around €600,000.
It is understood he was due to appear in a court in the United Arab Emirates in 2005. When he did not attend the UAE issued a warrant for his arrest.
Between 1999 and 2002 Campo ran a company called Connections Sports and Music (CSM) in Dubai which organised sports and rock music events with stars such as Andre Agassi, Stefan Edberg, Eric Cantona, Pink Floyd, Sting, Enrique Iglesias and Tom Jones.
Campo told decanter.com the complaint, brought by his former business partner Jackie Wartanian, who is now managing director of Center Stage Management (also CSM), is to do with a fee paid to singer Enrique Iglesias.
Campo told decanter.com that he only became aware of the arrest warrant in the last four to six weeks.
‘When I left Dubai to return to Spain in 2002, I informed the Spanish Embassy in Dubai,’ he said.
‘I was never told about the court case. This is a civil matter and should never have become a criminal one. The €600,000 was used to pay Enrique Iglesias.’
Campo and his wife Melissa now run the Barcelona-based Wine Academy, and conferences whose sponsors include the Rioja government, Marqués de Riscal, Riedel, Codorniu, Robert Mondavi Winery and Constellation Europe.
The conferences are regarded as influential. The Wine and Climate Change conference in February 2008 attracted former US Vice-President Al Gore, who spoke by video link.
Alfonso Martinez, Campo’s lawyer, cast doubt on the veracity of the arrest warrant. ‘This can be done by petitioning a judge in Dubai using a lawyer,’ he told decanter.com.
Rafael Ansón, president of the Real Academia Española de Gastronomía, told decanter.com the case was ‘exclusively commercial’ and that they are working towards a solution.
He described the posting of the warrant on the Interpol site as ‘a false interpretation’ of the situation.
He added, ‘the business activities of Pancho Campo in Spain are positive and irreproachable.’
decanter.com has been unable to contact Jackie Wartanian.
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Written by Jim Budd, and Adam Lechmere