Senior Greenvale staff suspended amid Sainsbury bribery claims

PUBLISHED: 10:10 18 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:23 02 June 2010

SENIOR staff at one of Fenland s main food suppliers have been suspended amid claims that they bribed a supermarket buyer £3m to stock its potatoes.

Greenvale, which has four plants in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, supplies about half of

SENIOR staff at one of Fenland's main food suppliers have been suspended amid claims that they bribed a supermarket buyer £3m to stock its potatoes.

Greenvale, which has four plants in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, supplies about half of the potatoes sold in Sainsbury's stores.

Last night, a spokesman for the firm, with bases at Chatteris and Floods Ferry near March, confirmed that a number of staff had been suspended. Its operations director, Dave Baxter, has been questioned by police.

Sainsbury's potato buyer John Maylam was also questioned by police last week about allegedly receiving backhanders from Greenvale.

The arrests were made by fraud squad officers from the City of London police.

Last night, a police spokesman said: "City of London police executed and completed search warrants at two residential addresses in Cambridgeshire and Shropshire and two business premises in Shropshire on Thursday, March 13.

"Two men were arrested on suspicion of corruption and money laundering and were subsequently bailed."

Greenvale, which won a Queen's Award for Innovation, employs more than 300 people at plants at Colton, near Norwich, Wisbech, Chatteris and Floods Ferry, Doddington, near March.

It also runs packing operations in Shropshire and Scotland.

A spokesman said a number of staff had been suspended following an internal investigation and Sainsbury's had been notified.

He said: "Following an internal investigation by Produce Investments Ltd, the holding company for Greenvale AP, the matter of payments made to individuals outside the Produce Investments group was brought to the attention of J Sainsbury plc.

"Following their own internal investigation, the matter has been referred to the police.

"A number of people have been suspended, and an investigation is now being carried out by City of London police fraud squad."

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury's said: "We can confirm that allegations have been made concerning certain payments and benefits by a supplier to an individual employed by us.

"We have the highest standards of corporate governance and, following inquiries, have passed our findings to the police for further investigation. As a result we are unable to comment further at this stage."

Sainsbury's sells 190m kilos of potatoes a year, worth about £130m.

The British potato market as a whole is said to be worth £1bn. Greenvale, which also supplies Tesco, won its Queen's Award in 2006 for its introduction of environmentally-friendly growing techniques and technical improvements.

In 2005, Sainsbury's dropped Cambridgeshire-based potato supplier MBM while increasing its business with Greenvale, which took on an extra 130 workers to help work on the new contract.

Last year, Greenvale won plaudits from retailers for introducing a new variety of potato called Mayan Gold, said to resemble the first potatoes brought back to Britain by explorer Sir Walter Raleigh.


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