• France edition
 
Spanghero innocent in horsemeat scam: CEO
A file photo of Spanghero's HQ in Castelnaudary, southeastern France. The company has been accused of fraud by the government. Photo Remy Gabalda/AFP

Spanghero innocent in horsemeat scam: CEO

Published: 15 Feb 2013 09:40 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Feb 2013 09:40 GMT+01:00

A day after Spanghero had its license revoked by the French authorities after a government investigation found it “knowingly sold horsemeat under the label of beef” the firm’s chief denied any responsibility and blamed the government for putting the future of the company at risk.

Speaking for the first time since his firm was implicated in the Europe-wide scandal, which began when traces of horsemeat were found in Findus lasagnes in the UK, CEO Barthélémy Aguerre told Europe1 radio the company “was a victim”.

“When the meat arrived to us it already had the label of beef on it. We analysed the contents ourselves and found that there was a mixture of horsemeat and beef. This proves that it was not Spanghero who were responsible for the scam. The fraud took place elsewhere.”

This was not the view, however, of Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon, who accused Spanghero on Thursday of “economic fraud”.

Hamon said the "fraud" had gone on for months and that 550 tonnes of the falsely labelled meat were sent to French firm Comigel, which makes frozen food at its Tavola factory in Luxembourg. Hamon said Spanghero would be prosecuted.

He also told reporters that Comigel, which supplied millions of ready-to-eat meals to supermarkets across Europe which have now been removed from their shelves, had been deceived by Spanghero.

But Spanghero’s chief Aguerre accused the government of acting prematurely and putting his firm and its 360 workers at risk. After the government suspended its licence to operate Spanghero's workforce have effectively been made unemployed.

“I will fight. The government acted too quickly and now the business is in big trouble. I don’t know if we can recover," he said.

“I am going to prove my innocence, the innocence of the firm and of all the workers."

But the founder of the company Laurent Spanghero believes Aguerre is guilty of “bringing shame” on the firm.

“There are not fifty people responsible in this case. There is only one – the boss,” Spanghero said. “My first thought goes to the 360 employees of the company and secondly to the children and grand-children who bear our name. We are now in disgrace.”

Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll said Spanghero's licence was being suspended while experts carried out tests on products at its plant in the southwestern town of Castelnaudary.

Le Foll said veterinarians would from Friday inspect Spanghero's premises and that the government would decide on whether or not to definitively withdraw the licence once the results of those inspections came in next week.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France plan air lifts to help fight Ebola
Liberian Red Cross health workers, wearing protective suits, carry the body of a 18-old-month baby, victim of the Ebola virus in Monrovia. AFP Photo/Zoom Dosso

France plan air lifts to help fight Ebola

France and Germany will send military transport planes to West Africa to help efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and military officials said on Friday. READ  

Moody's keeps France on negative outlook
Credit ratings agency Moody's said that France till has significant credit strengths. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Moody's keeps France on negative outlook

Moody's maintained its negative rating on France on Friday but -- despite earlier reports -- did not deal the struggling economy a downgrade. READ  

Air France strike to continue another week
Air France pilots have voted to continue their strike for another week. Photo: AFP

Air France strike to continue another week

Air France pilots voted on Friday to extend their strike for another week, while management has showed no signs of compromising, according to French media reports. Roughly half of the flagship carrier's flights have remained grounded due to the action. READ  

‘Red tape France’ tops UN e-efficiency list
France apparently isn't the world capital of red tape. Photo: Department for Communities and Local Government/Flickr

‘Red tape France’ tops UN e-efficiency list

France, notorious for its jungle of red-tape, has apparently been undersserving of some of that criticism. A new report ranks France as the best country in Europe when it comes to online government services. READ  

Sarkozy announces his return to French politics
Nicolas Sarkozy is back in French politics. Photo: AFP

Sarkozy announces his return to French politics

In a long-expected announcement, Nicolas Sarkozy said he will return to French politics with a bid for his party's presidency, which many believe is the first step toward a run at France's top elected office. READ  

Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
The days of the love locks craze in Paris may be numbered. Photo: AFP

Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze

'Love locks' have become such a problem in Paris the city has just installed panels intended to block couples from latching their passion to the town's infrastracture, leaving it straining under a dangerous load. READ  

Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
Photo: Heel: Shutterstock

Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack

A Paris taxi driver has died after angry passengers beat and stabbed him with stiletto high heel shoes during a drunken night out in the French capital. READ  

France launches first bombing runs on Isis
France got praise from US President Barack Obama for its decision to bomb Isis militants. Photo: Jean-Luc Brunet/AFP

France launches first bombing runs on Isis

France launched its first airstrikes on Friday against the Isis militants who have seized swathes of Iraq and Syria. Word of the bombing came less than 24 hours after French President François Hollande promised military action. READ  

French crook fakes his funeral to escape cops
The reports of one French crook's death were, it turns out, greatly exaggerated. Photo: Graves: Shutterstock

French crook fakes his funeral to escape cops

A wanted French criminal crafted a detailed plan to fake his own death, but there was just one problem: the police turned up at his 'funeral'. READ  

French leaders relieved by Scotland's 'No' vote
French leaders heaved a sigh of relief over Scotland's 'no' vote. Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP

French leaders relieved by Scotland's 'No' vote

There was plenty of relief in France's political classes on Friday after Scottish voters decisively rejected independence from the United Kingdom. One top minister said a 'yes ' vote would have hurt the European Union. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Fashion Ladies of the Local: Win a New Autumn Look
National
Ten great bars in Paris only locals know about
Society
France's top expat tribes: Which are you?
National
France to set flat-rate for Paris airport taxis
Politics
French separatists want Scots to say 'yes'
National
Anti-dog poo offensive launched in French town
National
Scammers attack Paris's top cop at tourist hotspot
National
French leader didn't pay his rent for three years
National
'WW2 bomb' kills camper on French island
Does France have a racism problem?
National
National
'Enough gloom, France is an amazing country'
Gallery
The top ten tourist traps to avoid in France
Politics
The juiciest bits from Trierweiler's tell-all book
Politics
Trierweiler tells all: 'Hollande wanted me back, at any price'
Education
'Sacre bleu!' Do the French really say that?
Politics
Manuel Valls has plenty in common with Tony Blair, but not background
International
Votes for expats: Plan to end UK's 15-year rule
Gallery
Ten dos and don'ts for keeping your French in-laws happy
National
Unemployment: How does France compare to Europe?
International
Are all the talented professionals really leaving France?
National
La France profonde: Is it a rural idyll or a backwater hell?
Travel
Check out the four new attractions coming to Paris this autumn
Gallery
The French words you can't translate literally
National
Ten things you need to know about France's economics whizzkid
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se