Former Valencia soccer club president arrested over kidnap attempt

Juan Bautista Soler is suspected of trying to abduct another ex-team chief, Vicente Soriano

Juan Soler leaves court in Valencia on Wednesday after being questioned.
Juan Soler leaves court in Valencia on Wednesday after being questioned.MÒNICA TORRES

The former president of Valencia soccer club, Juan Bautista Soler, was released by police on Wednesday after being arrested for trying to kidnap Vicente Soriano, another ex-chief at the team. Soler was detained by National Police on Tuesday, and spent the night in custody. This morning he was questioned in a Valencia court.

The judge freed Soler pending charges, having named him as a suspect in the kidnapping investigation. Soler will have to regularly report to a courthouse, and has been prohibited from leaving the country. He will also have to observe a restraining order, staying at least 15 meters away from Vicente Soriano – who lives nearby to him – at all times.

A second suspect was also detained by the police, but no further names have yet been released. The state attorney did not call for Soler to be kept in custody.

A second suspect was also detained by the police, but no further names have yet been released

Real estate businessman Juan Bautista Soler led the club between October 2004 and March 2008. His time at Valencia CF will be remembered for the construction of a new stadium, as well as the massive debts he left behind.

In September 2008, Soler sold Soriano 70,889 shares for €85 million, an amount that was to be repaid in four installments. The intention of Soriano, who led the club from 2008 to 2009, was to sell these shares to the Uruguayan investment group Dalport, but the Valencia regional government intervened in order to ensure that the club would not fall into the hands of an organization with a suspect reputation.

After Soriano’s resignation, Bancaja – the club’s main creditor, which was owed €240 million – suggested an administrative board that would include Manuel Llorente, who returned to the presidency of the club having already served in that role between 1995 and 2005.

Once in place, in June 2009 Llorente proceeded with a capital increase of €92 million at the club, which reduced the value of the shares that Soriano had acquired, scaring off Dalport in the process. Faced with this situation, Soriano refused to pay Soler.

On February 11, the Supreme Court ratified a sentence that obliged Soriano to pay Soler €39 million for breach of contract.

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