Billionaire heir Hans Kristian Rausing, a member of the family behind the Tetra Pak packaging empire, has been arrested by British police in connection with the death of his wife, Eva.
Rausing was arrested earlier on Tuesday (London time) on suspicion of driving erratically and was allegedly found to have Class A drugs in his possession.
Police then searched the couple’s five-storey mansion in the exclusive London suburb of Belgravia and found the body of Eva Rausing. Hans Kristian Rausing was then re-arrested in connection with his wife’s death.
The British police say Rausing is now receiving medical attention. A post-mortem has not established the cause of death and the police are treating it as “unexplained” while they await the results of further tests.
Hans Kristian Rausing is the son of Hans Rausing, who was valued by Forbes magazine in March at $US10 billion.
Hans Rausing’s father founded packaging company Tetra Laval in 1944 and seven years later unveiled the Tetra Pak, a revolutionary cardboard tetrahedron that could keep milk fresh and provided an alternative to the milk bottle.
The invention’s huge success created a vast empire for the Rausing family. In 1995, Hans Rausing sold his stake in the business to his brother Gad, who continues to run the business.
But the family’s huge fortune did not create happiness.
By the time Hans Rausing sold his stake in Tetra Laval, he had already moved his family to Britain to avoid high taxes in his native Sweden.
But his son, Hans Kristian Rausing, was leading a troubled life. Drug problems had landed him in a US rehabilitation program in the late 1980s. It was there he met Eva Kemeny, the daughter of a wealthy Pepsi executive.
The pair continued to struggle with their drug addiction. In 2008, Eva was caught trying to take bundles of heroin and cocaine into a function at the US embassy in London and a subsequent police search of the couple’s home found more drugs.
Hans Kristian and Eva avoided jail and escaped with a conditional caution, a move that attracted claims wealthy offenders were treated differently to other drug offenders.
Eva and Hans Kristian, who was once described by Prince Charles as “one very special philanthropist”, were supporters of a charity called Action on Addiction, which led tributes to Eva this morning.
“Everyone involved with Action on Addiction is devastated to hear the news of Eva Rausing’s untimely death.
“Without any desire for public recognition, Eva has, through her wonderfully generous support of this and other charities, helped so many people for over 20 years. We offer our deepest sympathy to Eva’s family at this time of great loss.”
Hans Rausing’s family, who live in rural England, also paid tribute to their daughter-in-law.
This article first appeared at SmartCompany.