Caterers reach settlement over 'smuggled beef'

26th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

LAGOS, July 26 (AFP) - The French catering multinational Sodexho has agreed to pay Nigerian authorities a EUR 28,000 penalty and surrender two refrigerated lorries after being accused of smuggling beef, according to court documents seen by AFP on Tuesday.

LAGOS, July 26 (AFP) - The French catering multinational Sodexho has agreed to pay Nigerian authorities a EUR 28,000 penalty and surrender two refrigerated lorries after being accused of smuggling beef, according to court documents seen by AFP on Tuesday.

The settlement, which was approved by the Federal High Court in Lagos, brought to an end a long trial and saved the managing director of Sodexho's Nigerian subsidiary, Arnold Jerome, from the danger of a five year prison sentence.

Judge Abdullahi Mustapha acquitted Sodexho, Jerome and five Nigerian customs officers accused of conspiring with the French firm to help it breach a ban imposed last year on the importation of frozen meat products.

Jerome's passport was returned to him at the hearing.

Frozen beef is one of around 50 products subject to a series of import bans imposed by the Nigerian government over the past two years in a bid to stimulate local industry and protect foreign exchange reserves.

On July 15 last year -- just days after the ban came into effect -- two of Sodexho's refrigerated lorries were seized as they left the port of Lagos carrying a valuable cargo of imported meat.

Jerome and his company -- Universal Sodexho Catering Nigeria Ltd -- were charged with smuggling. Later, prosecutors added an additional charge of conspiring with the five Nigerian customs officers.

Sodexho, which provides food products and catering services to companies worldwide, mostly serves multinational oil giants in Nigeria.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article