Max Verstappen’s manager, Raymond Vermeulen, has refused to be drawn into speculation about one of the Dutchman’s sponsors, Jumbo.
The supermarket chain is one of Verstappen’s partners, and it has stores across the Netherlands and Belgium.
It CEO, Frits van Eerd, took on his current position in 2002 – 23 years after Jumbo was founded – but he now finds himself in custody.
He, along with others, is suspected of money laundering which, according to the Public Prosecution Service, took place during real estate transactions, as well as automotive trading, unexplained cash deposits, and sponsorship contracts.
Alongside Verstappen, Jumbo has deals with the Jumbo-Visma cycling and skating teams, but the sponsorship aspect of the money laundering is only thought to be related to the former.
Van Eerd is not the main suspect in the case; that is thought to be a 58-year-old man from AA en Hunze, Drenthe, who is also suspected of VAT fraud.
Five of the detained suspects have been released, but van Eerd remains in jail having had his detention extended by three days on Friday.
All involved parties, including those released from custody, are still being treated with suspicion.
This is not a great look for one of the reigning world champion’s key sponsors, but there is as yet no concrete evidence that Jumbo’s CEO was involved with anything illegal.
In that vein, Verstappen’s team will keep an open mind, and will not be rash in their next steps.
“Caution is in order here,” Vermeulen told Algemeen Dagblad newspaper.
“We are waiting for the facts to be on the table. We have been in contact with Jumbo and the management and marketing will continue as usual.”
Vermeulen also reminded reporters that the investigation involves van Eerd, not the Jumbo company itself.
“We have agreements with Jumbo, and the supermarket is not part of the investigation. That was clearly stated,” he added.
“Let’s be careful with all kinds of suggestive things and wait for the facts to come out.”
Verstappen leads the world championship by 116 points from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc heading into the Singapore Grand Prix at the beginning of October.
The Dutchman is expected to get the title wrapped up in the next two rounds, with the Japanese Grand Prix arriving a week after the race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.