Sara Lee Says Workers Backed Wrong Ahold Payables

CHICAGO - Sara Lee Corporation announced today that an internal review of its relationship with Royal Ahold's U.S. Foodservice unit has revealed that three of its salespeople independently confirmed to U.S. Foodservice's auditor, Deloitte & Touche, inaccurate amounts payable to U.S. Foodservice. These amounts were inconsistent with the formal reporting of rebate balances that Sara Lee provided on a monthly basis to U.S. Foodservice.

Documents indicate that these individuals improperly responded to direct requests from senior U.S. Foodservice executives to confirm rebates and balances due from Sara Lee that were inaccurate and higher than what was owed. Sara Lee is providing its findings and related materials to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in conjunction with the SEC's ongoing investigation into this matter.

"While this is a serious matter, we want to emphasize that Sara Lee is not the focus of this investigation, and this discovery in no way affects our financial results. Sara Lee's accounting for our business with U.S. Foodservice is both accurate and appropriate," said C. Steven McMillan, chairman, president and CEO of Sara Lee Corporation. "We will continue to cooperate fully with the SEC's investigation into accounting practices at the U.S. Foodservice unit of Royal Ahold."

Sara Lee emphasized that these three salespeople, who have been relieved of their sales responsibilities, were not authorized to make these confirmations. The company acknowledged that the letters could have been used improperly by certain U.S. Foodservice personnel to indicate higher than actual earnings.
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