Spain’s biggest tomato cooperative Casi has dismissed allegations of fraud against its president, José María Andújar and manager Antonio González García, as attempts to “poison members” ahead of the company’s general assembly, due to take place on 15 March.
One of the cooperative’s members has filed a complaint accusing Andújar of “improper management and misappropriation” relating to surcharges he allegedly applied to tomatoes grown on his farms and marketed through the cooperative. It claims he obtained a profit of over €200,000 as a result of the action. The complainant stated that during the 2012/13 campaign the average price paid by customers purchasing the cooperative’s Cocktail tomatoes was €0.77/kg, whereas Andújar “received an average of €1.45/kg from this variety”.
In a strongly worded statement, Casi denied the claims, stating that prices are fixed according to formal procedures audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The company said the accuser was part of a group of disgruntled former board members who served under previous president, Francisco Belmonte, that wanted to undermine the current leadership prior to Friday’s AGM because they had lost out to Andújar during the last leadership vote in 2013.
Casi observed that the first page of the complaint had been transmitted via Whatsapp – without respecting the proper channels of justice, it said – and said this was evidence that the only intention was “to cast a shadow over the excellent management of José María Andújar, who has steered the cooperative from a €1.6m to a profit of €4.2m over the three years since he took the helm."