Beleaguered Dutch retailer Ahold has said a judge in Uruguay had decided there were no grounds for a criminal investigation into Ahold and its Argentine unit Disco.

"This is good news because it opens the way for the release of the assets of Disco and will facilitate the sale," Ahold spokesman Walter Samuels was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The court had called for the seizure of the assets of Disco as part of proceedings brought in Uruguay by former account holders of a failed bank owned by Velox Group, a former partner of Ahold's in Disco.

The account holders claim Ahold paid around half a billion euros to a banking consortium on behalf of Velox when the money should have gone to all Velox’ creditors.