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Dublin: 12 °C Sunday 15 September, 2019
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Cancelled Belgium music festival drawing comparisons to disastrous Fyre Festival

A fraud investigation has been launched into the festival.

File photo of rapper Cardi B who was due to perform at the festival.
File photo of rapper Cardi B who was due to perform at the festival.
Image: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

A MUSIC FESTIVAL in Belgium featuring major stars like rapper Cardi B came to a chaotic end before it had even started.

Security concerns were touted as the reason behind the cancellation of the VestiVille festival in Belgium on Friday, though local officials have launched a fraud investigation.

This has added a further layer of confusion and rekindled memories of the ill-fated Fyre Festival, the failed music bash in the Bahamas in 2017. 

Fyre Festival is known around the world following the release last year of a Netflix documentary, which documented a litany of mismanagement and cut corners which resulted in disaster once people arrived on the island for the festival. 

VestiVille was die to kick off on Friday , with videos posted on Twitter showing an elaborate stage apparently ready for the three-day music fest on a campsite in Lommel, in Belgium’s Flemish region.

But thousands of festival-goers from around Europe and elsewhere got a shock as police, some with dogs, moved in to try to keep them out of the grounds as they arrived. 

Investigation

Belgium’s RTBF network reported yesterday that the Limbourg prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation on suspicion of fraud over payments.

Spokesperson Jeroen Swijssen said three of the festival organisers were questioned Friday night. The three were not identified.

An investigating judge was said to be questioning them further over the weekend on an array of suspicions including fraud, laundering and breach of trust.

VestiVille wrote on Facebook and Twitter on Friday that Lommel Mayor Bob Nijs stopped the festival on security grounds. The posts said that after consulting security services and security for star rapper A$AP Rocky, “it was decided that the safety of the artist and the public could not be guaranteed”.

However, security issues were not currently included in the investigation.

A$AP Rocky said on Twitter that the promoters had told him that “security and infrastructure concerns” would have been “handled but unfortunately for you and me they didn’t.”

No response

There was no immediate response to an email query to VestiVille about alleged deficiencies and other potential problems behind the cancellation, which recalled the Fyre Festival debacle.

Rapper Ja Rule, a co-founder of Fyre Festival, was to perform Saturday at VestiVille.

He has denied any involvement in any fraud in relation to Fyre Festival and has never been charged with any wrongdoing related to the failed enterprise.

Billy McFarland (26) Fyre’s co-founder, was sentenced last October in a federal court in Manhattan to six years in prison. He admitted to defrauding investors of $26 million (€22.83 million) and over $100,000 (€87,800) in a fraudulent ticket-selling scheme after his arrest in the scam.

With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald

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