The Dutch meat trader at the heart of the horsemeat scandal was today arrested over accusations of forgery and fraud, Dutch officials have said.

Willy Selten – whose wholesaling business triggered a 50,000-tonne meat recall across Europe in April – was remanded in custody along with the company’s deputy director, who was arrested last Tuesday, the Dutch public prosecution service (OM) said in a statement on its website. Both men were suspected of forgery and fraud, it added.

A woman employed by the company had been questioned and is suspected of being involved in the alleged meat fraud, the OM said.

According to the OM, Selten’s company received about 300 tonnes of horsemeat during 2011 and 2012, and investigations by Dutch food watchdog NVWA suggested this was processed and sold as beef.

Two weeks ago, the NVWA told The Grocer some of the horsemeat had come from Poland, but the OM today named the sources of the meat as the Netherlands, England and Ireland.

“Fraudulent practices by companies can have a major impact on food production and possibly also on food safety,” it said. “The government considers food fraud and deception intolerable and unacceptable. Fraud can undermine consumer confidence in the food sector.”

The NVWA triggered an EU-wide recall of 50,000 tonnes of beef supplied by Selten at the beginning of April, following a raid on the company in mid-February. At the time of the recall, the NVWA said it suspected Selten had supplied beef mixed with horsemeat, but the primary reason for the recall was a lack of traceability on the meat.

Selten has always maintained his innocence and told Dutch media this week he never passed off horsemeat as beef. Where horsemeat was mixed with beef, this was clearly indicated and described as a “custom recipe”, he said. He also disputed the NVWA’s claims he kept poor traceability records.