Sainsbury's potato fraudsters get a roasting

Three businessmen are languishing in jail today after creaming £9m from Sainsbury's in a murky potato deal.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

It’s been a day of rotten luck for a Sainsbury’s senior stock buyer, a director and his finance chief from potato producer, Greenvale, all three of whom were jailed for four years yesterday by a judge at Croydon Crown Court. 

John Maylam, the most senior Sainsbury’s stock buyer, cooked up the scheme with Greenvale director John Baxter whereby the supermarket was massively overcharged for potatoes, and the surplus (totalling around £9m over time) was siphoned off allowing the men to live outrageously extravagant lifestyles. 

The scheme worked by channelling surplus cash paid for the potatoes through two offshore bank accounts used for money laundering, with John Maylam accepting around £5m in bribes for allowing the overcharging of Sainsbury’s to go on. After a four-year investigation into the trio, the elaborate scheme’s goose is cooked. 

The court heard that Greenvale was desperate to keep its £40m contract with Sainsbury’s, providing almost half its stock of the vegetable annually, but as the judge rightly pointed out, a massive corporate fraud system is not usually the best way to engage with the tendering process…

The men ran up bills in expensive hotels and took lavish holidays around the world, including a £350,000 holiday for the grand prix in Monaco for Maylam’s 40th, and roughly the same spent on stays at Claridge’s. Maylam also bought a cheeky Aston Martin for £94,000 a few months after the holidays. We think its safe to say that whoever grassed on them probably had a chip on their shoulder.

But the lavish lifestyle days are over: they can forget about tasty dauphinoise side dishes now. Just gruel and a cold prison cell. We take it Maylam won’t be needing the Aston anymore, either…

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