LONDON May 15 A multi-million pound fraud
involving the supply of potatoes to supermarket giant
Sainsbury's was "corruption on a massive scale",
prosecutors said on Tuesday as a jury convicted one of the
scam's key players.
Andrew Behagg, 60, the finance director of food supplier
Greenvale, has been told he faces a significant jail term after
being found guilty of paying bribes to a Sainsbury's buyer.
Thousands of pounds of cash in brown envelopes was handed to
the buyer, John Maylam, who splashed out on lavish meals and
stays at top London hotels, Croydon Crown Court heard during the
Greenvale supplied around 45 percent of Sainsbury's potatoes
in 2008 at the time of the scam, and prosecutors said it
overcharged the supermarket by millions of pounds.
The jury of 10 men and two women took five hours and 45
minutes to convict Behagg, from Cambridgeshire, of one count of
corruption, the Press Association reported.
Judge Nicholas Ainley said: "For any case of this magnitude
a sentence of imprisonment is almost inevitably passed, and a
significant one at that."
Behagg is expected to be sentenced on June 22 at the same
court alongside Maylam and Greenvale's account manager David
Baxter, who have both admitted corruption.
"This was corruption on a massive scale," said Sue Patten of
the Crown Prosecution Service Central Fraud Group, in a
statement after the verdict.
The prosecution's case was that as a result of the
corruption, Greenvale was able to keep lucrative business for
the supply of potatoes to Sainsbury's, valued at 40 million
pounds per year, at the same time as overcharging them.
"Maylam was showered with excessive gifts and hospitality
including stays at Claridges, costing a total of 200,000 pounds
and a luxury 12-day excursion to the Monaco Grand Prix in 2007,
at a cost to Greenvale of around 350,000 pounds," Patten said.
"Maylam also received lump sum payments, via an account in
Luxembourg, to the tune of 1.5 million pounds, supposedly for
the storage of potatoes in Spain and other bogus activities.
"In return for these criminal payments, Greenvale employees
Baxter and Behagg were able to collude with Maylam in
overcharging Sainsbury to the tune of 8.7 million pounds."
The supermarket expressed its satisfaction with the verdict.
It said in a statement: "This was an unacceptable and
calculated crime against Sainsbury's of a magnitude never
experienced in our history."