A businessman who passed off horsemeat as beef in a bid to increase his profits has been convicted of fraud today (26 July).
Andronicos Sideras, owner of Dinos and Sons Ltd, conspired with Ulrich Nielsen and Alex Ostler-Beech, of Flexi Foods, to sell horsemeat as beef over a 10-month period in 2012.
On a number of occasions Sideras, of North London, mixed consignments of beef with horsemeat, repackaged the meat and attached the false labels, saying it originated from a Polish beef supplier. By doing so Sideras was able to inflate his profits as horsemeat was cheaper to purchase than beef.
He had denied one count of conspiracy to defraud but was convicted after a trial at the Inner London Crown Court. Nielsen and Ostler-Beech had already pleaded guilty to the same offence at an earlier hearing.
Their crime was discovered after an environmental health officer visited a meat manufacturer in Newry, Northern Ireland. The inspector examined 12 pallets of meat and, of those, two pallets had horse meat as a major component.
Microchips from two Polish horses and one Irish horse were also recovered from within the meat blocks.
An investigation found the meat had been sold by Flexi Foods and label alterations had taken place at Dinos. There were seven orders where this had taken place, involving a total of 83,000kgs of meat, of which more than a third (30,000kg) was horsemeat.
Nina Montalbano, from the CPS, said:
“These men, motivated by greed, knowingly sold horsemeat to manufacturers so they could increase their profits.
“Faced with the evidence put forward by the CPS Nielsen and Ostler-Beech pleaded guilty, whereas Sideras was convicted by a jury.
“All three defendants knew full well this meat would enter the food chain through a number of leading supermarkets but continued their fraud with blatant disregard for the public’s right to know what is in their food.”
The men will be sentenced on Monday.
Notes to Editors
- Nina Montalbano is a lawyer with the CPS Specialist Fraud Division