Ahold to Defend U.S. Foodservice against Latest Charges

The Columbia, MD-based distributorship, the second largest according to the ID Top 50, is being accused of having engaged in racketeering.

The filing is in advance of what Ahold called a "substantial" defense document that it said it would file in a U.S. next month as well as a motion to dismiss the class action, Peter Wakkie, an executive vice president of Ahold, was quoted as saying.

Earlier this month U.S. Foodservice was sued for fraud a year after it paid $1.1 billion to settle claims from its earlier hoax. At the time, Royal Ahold said the putative suit has no merit and will not likely damage its intention to sell the company.

The Financial Times had reported that a Connecticut hospital and a family-owned Italian operator in Rockford, IL, allege that the second largest distributorship used a fraudulent supply system to overcharge customers by hundreds of millions of dollars between 2000 and 2003.

An amended class action filed earlier this week in a Connecticut court included what lawyers claimed was additional evidence to support allegations that the unit fraudulently operated a kickback system to overcharge customers, the newspaper added.

Ahold last year settled a class action with US pension funds for $1.1 billion in relation to allegations that U.S. Foodservice profits had been inflated through the false accounting of promotional allowances.

Ahold, the world's fourth-biggest food retail and foodservice group by sales that generates 74% of its sales in the United States, has put U.S. Foodservice up for sale. It is valued by analysts at up to 5.2 billion euros or about $6.86 billion. The planned sale has attracted a number of private equity group believed to be preparing bids.


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