Accel Europe Supports Jailed Partner

Accel Partners last week voiced strong support for a European general partner who was arrested on Nov. 26 on suspicion of breaking Finland’s privacy laws when he was chief executive officer of Sonera Corp.

Kaj-Erik Relander, a general partner in the $500 million Accel Europe Fund LP, was still being held by the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation as of mid-day Dec. 5.

“Kaj [pronounced “Kai”] is a valued and trusted member of Accel, and he is still a full partner in our firm,” says Kevin Comolli, managing director of Accel Europe. “He has told us that he’s innocent of any wrongdoing and we’d be shocked if he were guilty.”

Comolli emphasizes that Relander “has not been charged with any crime. He has been detained as part of a preliminary investigation.”

Apparently, under Finish law, authorities may hold suspects longer than 24 hours without charging them with a crime, and Finland doesn’t have a bail system like the United States, Comolli says.

Asked about the reaction of Accel’s limited partners to the news, Comolli says: “We’ve spoken to a lot of LPs to proactively maintain transparency, but I don’t want to comment further on that.”

Relander, a high-profile Finnish business figure who joined Accel about a year ago, is being questioned about an alleged violation of privacy laws by Sonera. The company is alleged to have broken the law by monitoring employee phone calls in an attempt to determine who leaked information to the media about an internal company dispute in 2000 and 2001, according to a report by the Associated Press.

“Kaj went to Finland voluntarily, which I thought was a very professional and responsible thing to do,” Comolli says.