Jorien van den Herik did not attend the ruling, but his legal counsel Guido de Bont had direct contact with the Feyenoord chairman by telephone. ‘He is very happy,’ said De Bont. ‘Justice has won out, that feeling is very strong. This ruling is completely in line with what Van den Herik said as early as the first interview in 1998. We were convinced that it would turn out well, but it is nevertheless a very unpleasant period, certainly for Mr Van den Herik personally.’
The Public Prosecution Service now has two weeks to appeal in cassation. De Bont does not rule out this possibility, but is relieved nevertheless. ‘Given the clear acquittal by the Court and the confirmation of the earlier ruling of the Rotterdam court, the feeling is that this matter has been brought to a conclusion.’
The full press release issued by The Hague Court of Appeal reads as follows.
Demand and defence
Two weeks ago the Public Prosecution Service demanded against Feyenoord a fine of one million euros, 250,000 euros of which was suspended, and against Van den Herik a fine of 15,000 euros and a suspended six-month jail sentence.
The Public Prosecution Service argued that part of the transfer fee was actually a signing on fee channelled to Vidmar by Feyenoord – directly or indirectly – and that accordingly wage tax should be paid on it in the Netherlands. By not accounting for this signing on fee in any wage tax declaration submitted by Feyenoord, Feyenoord intentionally committed tax fraud (charge 1), in the opinion of the Public Prosecution Service. By having invoices in its administration that do not correspond to the truth, forgery was committed (charge 2), in the opinion of the Public Prosecution Service.
In the opinion of the defence no (disguised) signing on fee was paid (indirectly) by Feyenoord to Vidmar, but only a transfer fee was paid by Feyenoord to Standard Liege and the money paid to Vidmar apparently resulted from an obligation that Standard had vis-à-vis Vidmar; Feyenoord had nothing to do with this.
The Court’s ruling
The Rotterdam court had acquitted Feyenoord and Van den Herik in 2002 of suspicions of criminal acts with respect to the transfers of Vidmar, Allotey and Gyan. The Public Prosecution Service appealed the acquittal with respect to the transfer of Vidmar from Standard Liege to Feyenoord in 1995. The Hague Court of Appeals has today acquitted Feyenoord and chairman Van den Herik.