ZURICH, Switzerland -- Police arrested American oil financier David Thieme on allegations of fraud and impounded his $7.6 million Mystere executive jet, a Zurich police spokesman said today.
The American financier, owner of the Monaco-based Essex Overseas Petroleum Co., was arrested Friday when he arrived at Kloten airport in Zurich, the spokesman said.
The Zurich district attorney issed the arrest warrant for Thieme, 41, at the request of the Swiss Credit Bank, he said.
Thieme, who is being held in investigative custody pending any formal charges, was arrested on the basis of alleged 'economic crimes,' police said.
The spokesman said this usually signifies alleged fraud activities.
The district attorney's office refused all comment, saying only that a statement on the affair would be made either Wednesday or Thursday.
Thieme's Essex Overseas Petroleum is principal sponsor of the British Lotus auto racing team which Thieme backed to the tune of $4 million a year.
Lotus, so far unable to race in Grand Prix events this season because of a controversial double chassis system, may now be out altogether because of Thieme's apparent financial troubles, racing experts said.
Besides impounding the financier's plane, police also impounded a double-decker Lotus racing team bus worth $761,000, the police spokesman confirmed.
The bus was confiscated in the northern Swiss frontier town of Basel as it entered Switzerland on its way to Imola, Italy, for the next Grand Prix race.
Thieme, born in Minneapolis and raised in New York, said in a newspaper interview last week he can make or lose a million dollars in a single supertanker shipment on the spot oil market.
'It was about 1968 when I first saw how money could be made in oil,' he told the International Herald Tribune.
He said his method was to buy from the producer at the lowest rate and then either move the crude oil to a refiner or to have it refined and then sell.