Pancho Campo cleared from Interpol database after 14-year fight

Former MW Pancho Campo has announced that his name has been expunged from Interpol’s database 14 years after he was issued with a Red Notice by the agency.

Pancho Campo was born in Chile in 1961. A former tennis professional, in 2003, Campo founded The Wine Academy of Spain, and in 2008 was named a Master of Wine, although four years later he gave up the title following an investigation into allegations that he had breached the IMW code of conduct

According to Campo, The International Criminal Police Organization made the decision to take his name off its list in January this year, ending a protracted fight by the Wine Academy of Spain founder to prove his innocence.

Writing on his website, Campo said that he had been put on the Interpol database by the United Arab Emirates following a complaint filed in Dubai by a former business partner back in 1999.

He noted, “The origin of the dispute with a former partner was a private matter of a commercial nature, which should never have been treated as a criminal case nor should it have caused the issuance of the Red Notice.”

Campo also said that he is considering all legal actions to restore his name and reputation, as well as to receive compensation from the UAE.

Speaking on Talk Radio Europe – which is Spain’s largest English speaking radio station – he explained the origin for the original complaint filed against him in Dubai, where Campo, a former tennis professional, had a sports events business.

“After the Twin Towers fell, nobody wanted to fly to the Middle East, and my business went down the drain, and I incurred lots of losses, so I put the company on hold and then shut it down,” he said.

However, he then recorded that his business partner in Dubai filed a complaint to say that Campo had closed the company without her permission, and this led to Campo being sentenced in absentia seven months after he had left the UAE, and a warrant being issued for his arrest through Interpol.

Commenting during the radio interview, Campo said that Dubai was “using Interpol as a debt collector”.

He also said that a ‘Red Notice’ was issued on Interpol’s database in 2005, but that he didn’t find out about it until March 2009 when he was travelling to the US to meet Robert Parker, and was sent home by the airport authorities.

It was at this point that he saw his name on the Interpol website, with his picture, and a notice saying ‘wanted’.

“I was accused of fraud, but my name had been spelt wrongly, my date of birth was wrong, and the accusation was three years after I had left the country; it was very shocking and upsetting,” he recalled.

Not only did he claim to have lost as much as US$180,000 in legal fees to no effect, but that his “reputation was destroyed”, and he wasn’t able to travel outside the EU.

Since enlisting the help of a Spanish lawyer, Campo has found the UAE guilty of breaking five articles of Interpol legislation.

“Interpol has ruled in my favour and against the UAE, and I’m in contact with the European Court of Human Rights,” he said.

“I had to clear my name for my reputation and for my children and my wife, and the whole process has lasted 18 years, during which time I have lost my business in the USA – no-one wants to do business with a guy who is on Interpol,” he stated, adding “it has caused tremendous damage, psychological and economic.”

Meanwhile, writing in an email to the drinks business last month, he said, “The effects upon my businesses incurred during this saga, especially those in the wine industry, have been devastating including shutting The Wine Academy, being hampered in expanding events such as Climate Change & Wine and Winefuture, while incurring financial losses and numerous related expenses.

“However, the damage to my reputation has aggrieved me most, especially because this issue was extrapolated later on regarding the Parker issue,” he added.

This latter comment refers to allegations in 2012 surrounding Campo’s dealings with The Wine Advocate’s correspondent Jay Miller, and claims that Campo was charging Spanish wineries to ‘secure’ a visit from Miller while organising his tasting schedule in Spain.

Subsequent investigations were launched by the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) – Campo had become an MW in 2008 – and Robert Parker. Parker’s investigation did not reveal “any evidence of impropriety by The Wine Academy of Spain”. The IMW investigation was halted after Campo resigned his membership of the Institute.

Despite resigning from the IMW, Campo told db earlier this week that he has never left the wine industry, and has been conducting WSET courses in Spain as well as the Spanish wine experience program. 

He has also kept up his work researching the effects of climate change and the wine industry, and plans later this year to host a new version of his World Conference on Climate Change & Wine under the name of Climate Change Leadership – Solutions for the wine industry.

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