Ex Ahold CEO admits hiding letters was wrong
8 May 2006, AMSTERDAM — Former CEO Cees van der Hoeven admitted in court on Monday he was wrong to withhold letters from Ahold's commissioners and accountant.
8 May 2006
AMSTERDAM — Former CEO Cees van der Hoeven admitted in court on Monday he was wrong to withhold letters from Ahold's commissioners and accountant.
"I took the wrong decision," Van der Hoeven said in evidence before the court in Amsterdam.
But van der Hoeven also said the prosecution service dealt with him in a disproportionate way. Without the fraud by Ahold's US Foodservice unit the "dimensions" of the problems he faced would have much smaller, he said.
Van der Hoeven is one of four company executives charged in relation to misstatement of Ahold's earnings in 2001 and 2002. They all testified on Monday and Van der Hoeven strongly challenged the notion he had deliberately done wrong. "None of the alleged lies are correct and as far as I am concerned none have survived this trial," he said.
Co-accused Michiel Meurs talked about the "public humiliation" he had experienced since resigning his position as Chief Financial Officer at Ahold. "I never wanted to mislead anyone," Meurs said. "I know I have to fight against this image, and it is a many-headed monster".
Former Director Jan Andreae said he was shocked to be a defendant in the case. "It is a puzzle how the prosecution can talk about fraud by the board of management without indicating how this was done. The prosecution has said nothing about the motive or the personal advantage," Andreae said.
Former Ahold commissioner Roland Fahlin also said he was amazed to be prosecuted on the basis of such "limited evidence".
The case revolves around the issue of how the Ahold booked the earnings of its subsidiaries and joint ventures in other countries. In order to calculate the full earnings of any of these businesses in its annual figures, Ahold had to show it owned a controlling interest in each of the businesses.
The prosecution alleges Ahold claimed to have this controlling interest but issued secret side letters to its partners confirming it did not. Revelations about the side letters led to a massive scandal in 2003 and almost bankrupt the supermarket giant. These are the letters Van der Hoeven admits he should not have withheld.
The court is to deliver its verdict on 22 May.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news + Ahold