Sainsbury’s, the supermarket group, was this weekend embroiled in a £3m bribes investigation after one of its most senior buyers was arrested on suspicion of accepting backhanders from a potato supplier.
John Maylam, who has worked for the supermarket for more than a decade, was arrested last week over receiving irregular payments from Greenvale, which supplies nearly half of the chain’s potatoes.
City of London police said two people had been arrested on suspicion of corruption and money laundering. Residential and business premises have been searched in Shropshire and Cambridgeshire.
Maylam has for years been one of the supermarket’s most respected buyers. He is regularly used as an expert commentator by the company and has been quoted in the media talking about Jamie Oliver’s positive impact on vegetable sales.
Britain’s £1 billion potato market is described as “cutthroat” and there is said to be overcapacity in the processing and packing plants that supply the supermarkets.