Belgian supermarket group Delhaize has been the victim of internal corruption. For years, a former Delhaize manager demanded bribes from contractors who were working for the distribution group. In total, the scandal could have lasted 20 years.
Cash, football tickets, jaunts…
The public prosecutor of Brussels is taking 7 suspects and 5 companies to court for several charges: bribery, counterfeiting, use of forged items, scams, fiscal fraud and forming a gang of criminals. That is according to business paper De Tijd.
The 62-year-old Hugo J. is the main suspect and a former Delhaize manager, responsible for dealing with contractors who had to construct and maintain Delhaize’s properties. Hugo was probably assisted by Ludo D., an engineer from Grontmij. He took charge of the building sites and he created the designs.
Both men decided to take advantage of additional benefits: from cash
and jaunts to the United States, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia to tickets for
football matches and free alterations to
privately-owned houses. They forged invoices, allowing the contractors to
bill the bribes to Delhaize in a scam that lasted up to 20 years. Nevertheless, the courts are
focusing on events between 2001 and 2006.
The list of contractors involved in the corruption scheme is apparently a lot longer than the current list of accused parties, but Delhaize claimed to be satisfied that a trial will be held to punish those responsible.
"Delhaize is satisfied that this will go to trial”, states Delhaize spokesperson Roel Dekelver, who emphasizes that the group is a victim in this case. “We found out about this situation ourselves and lodged an official complaint, claiming damages. Evidently, we have taken the necessary internal measures to ensure that this will never happen again."
The trial will commence on 8 November. It is unique in the sense that usually companies prefer to deal with internal corruption in-doors, fearing negative publicity. The possible sentence for kickbacks is imprisonment between 6 months and 3 years. Aggravating circumstances may lead to ten years in jail.