Thirty months imprisonment for horsemeat fraud

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's-Hertogenbosch , 07 april 2015

The district court of Oost-Brabant has sentenced a 45-year-old meat wholesaler from Oss to thirty months imprisonment. The man, the owner of two companies, is found guilty of falsifying bills, packing slips and written statements. He used those fake documents to trade cheap horsemeat as if it was the more expensive beef.

His internationally operating companies were engaged in purchasing, boning and carving beef and trading that meat. When horsemeat was found in beef burgers in Ireland and Great Britain, an investigation started in the companies of the man. In February 2013 167 samples were taken, 35 of which tested positive on horse DNA. All these products were sold as pure beef.
 
The wholesaler stated that unintentional mistakes were made and that the administration of his companies was a little inaccurate. Normally, the horsemeat is processed and stored separately from the beef, he said.
 
The court finds that the two companies purchased and processed at least 336.000 kilos of horsemeat in 2011 and 2012. These actions were not registered, therefore there were no bills or other papers stating that the products contained horsemeat.
 
As the owner and the man in charge, the 45-year-old suspect is held responsible for this fraud. According to the court, however, there was not enough evidence that the companies used falsified weighing lists. Furthermore, the man was in charge of falsifying and the use of two invoices to receive extra credit from the financing company, but there is no evidence to support that the man used the falsified bills in 17 other cases, like the prosecution stated.

Deceit

The court rules that the meat wholesaler misled his buyers and also misled consumers.
They all assumed that they had bought pure beef. This destroyed the reputation of the meat buyers. The meat wholesaler harmed the image of the Dutch meat industry. He only worked for his own profit. The meat wholesaler saved money buying the cheap horsemeat, mixing it with beef fat and selling it as if it was the more expensive beef. The fact that the product with horsemeat was only a small part of the total volume of trade, makes no difference to the court. Finally, the court very much holds against him that he abused the trust that the finance company put in him.
 
The prosecution demanded five years imprisonment. Because the court acquitted the man of several accusations, it decided to a more lenient punishment. In favour of the meat trader, the court took into account that the man has been punished by his own actions: his businesses went bankrupt and there is a good chance that he has to pay a claim of 11 million euros to the receiver in his bankruptcy. In his favour the court also took into account the great international media-attention and the fact that his full name was used by them.

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