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Horsemeat scandal’s prime suspect revealed: Is this the tycoon who butchered the meat trade? 

He has become a leading suspect in the food scandal which has seen tainted meat sold by British supermarkets in ready meals and burgers

The Mirror, David Collins, Sam Hurley, April 12, 2013

Willy-Selten-1825594.pngThis is the tycoon Dutch ­authorities suspect may have flooded Europe with 50,000 tons of beef ­contaminated with horsemeat.

Willy Selten has become a leading suspect in the food scandal which has seen tainted meat sold by British supermarkets in ready meals and burgers.

Selten, who lives in a £1.5million house near Oss, Netherlands, owns two wholesalers being probed by officials.

The Dutch government initially denied any involvement in the scandal.

But this week officials recalled 50,000 tons of suspect beef sold by Selten’s firms, Wiljo Import en Export BV and ­Vleesgroothandel Willy Selten.

They have advised 370 companies across 16 countries to remove the beef from the food chain.

Selten became known to the authorities last May when meat supplied by his wholesaler tested positive for horse painkiller bute – which can be dangerous when consumed by humans.

But Selten’s huge meat businesses continued to operate.

Now investigators cannot find the paperwork that would help them trace the suspect beef’s source.

Employees-at-meat-processing-plant-1825595The beef – equivalent to 450 million quarter-pounder burgers – is worth £500million and was sold by Selten between January 2011 and February this year.

But millionaire Selten has failed to pay his 120 workers since the beginning of March, leading several to take legal action in an attempt to bankrupt his company.

He currently employs 85 Polish workers who live on a campsite near one of his warehouses in Oss, which stands behind imposing grey gates and ­corrugated shutters.

The father-of-two was said by neighbours to be a “quiet family man”.

One said: “He’s not flash but there’s a quiet, aristocratic air of wealth about him. He’s not short of a euro or two.”

Selten faced no action last year when horsemeat contaminated with bute was traced to one of his factories.

It was not until this year that the factory was shut down temporarily and Selten was taken to court in February.

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