• 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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Crook uses 3D printer to steal thousands
Is that ATM facade real or was it printed at home by a crook? Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

Crook uses 3D printer to steal thousands

Three-dimensional printers are not always used to positive effect. A criminal in southern France managed to use one to steal thousands of euros from bank users, it emerged this week. READ  

France drinks to bumper 2014 wine harvest
France is set for a much better wine harvest than last year. Photo: Jean Louis Zimmerman/Flickr

France drinks to bumper 2014 wine harvest

There was some much-needed good cheer for France on Friday when winegrowers predicted a successful 2014. With over 6 million bottles set to be produced this year, there should be enough to go round. Although there was bad news for another crop. READ  

Ten ways expats in France drive you mad
Ten ways expats in France can drive you mad. Can you guess what this one is about? Photo: Shutterstock

Ten ways expats in France drive you mad

This week The Local France has been asking readers about the things their fellow countrymen and women do that embarrass them or drive them mad. Needless to say we’ve had plenty of responses. READ  

France welcomes 40 Iraqi Christian refugees
The first of hundreds of Iraqi refugees have arrived in France. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

France welcomes 40 Iraqi Christian refugees

Some 40 Iraqi Christians were flown into Paris on Thursday as they seek refuge from the Islamic extremists who have captured the northern reaches of Iraq. French authorities expect to receive hundreds more. READ  

French pensioner told to prove he is alive
"Prove your alive" the bureaurats told one French pensioner. Photo: Denis Charlet/AFP

French pensioner told to prove he is alive

A retired Frenchman became embroiled in bureaucratic nightmare after he was denied a refund through his state health insurance on the grounds he was dead. He has been asked to prove otherwise. READ  

Liberation of Paris
When Ernest Hemingway took back the Ritz bar
Ernest Hemingway, who famously liberatied the Ritz bar in Paris (after the Germans had gone). Photo: AFP

When Ernest Hemingway took back the Ritz bar

Writer Ernest Hemingway's role in the Liberation of Paris from Nazi forces 70 years ago has become the stuff of legend. He was on a one-man mission to liberate the famous bar at the Ritz Hotel from the Germans. READ  

'Marine Le Pen is the 21st century Joan of Arc'
Brigitte Bardot thinks Marine Le Pen is the 21st century Joan of Arc. Photo: Wikicommons/AFP

'Marine Le Pen is the 21st century Joan of Arc'

In a new interview one-time French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot has likened the head of France’s anti-immigration National Front party to the iconic French historical figure of Joan of Arc. READ  

France armed Syrian rebels 'months ago'
Freance says it armed Syrian rebels "months ago". Photo: AFP

France armed Syrian rebels 'months ago'

France supplied arms to rebels fighting the government in Syria "months ago", French President François Hollande said on Thursday. READ  

France's mussel growers gripped by ongoing crisis
In future France may be forced to import more and more mussels to satisfy demand. Photo: Ming-Yen Hsu/flickr

France's mussel growers gripped by ongoing crisis

In future “les moules” you eat in France may longer be homegrown after mussel producers in the west of the country have reported an "unprecedented" crisis due to poor harvests. They are demanding the state hand out emergency aid. READ  

Fruit and veg prices tumble in France
Nice weather has caused Fruit and veg prices to drop in France. Photo: David Flores/Flickr

Fruit and veg prices tumble in France

Good weather and weak demand have sent fruit and vegetable prices tumbling in France this summer. However, one of France’s favorite edibles is poised to spike in cost. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Ten things you need to know about the Liberation of Paris:
Travel
Watch this impressive time lapse video and you'll want to move to Paris
National
Veiled Muslim woman on a French beach prompts politician's angry rant
Travel
Forget Paris and Provence where are the least touristy areas of France?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The battle to liberate Paris from the Nazis
National
What France means to you in just one tweet
National
15 French 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
12 reasons to invest in Paris and seven not to
National
French hamlet 'Death to Jews' mulls name change
National
French tourist caught in Pompeii brothel romp
International
'Forget the Anglo-media's image of France, the reality is much different'
Culture
VIDEO: Francophile Robin Williams enjoyed poking fun at the French
Travel
Six reasons why France is the world's top tourist destination
International
Remembering the 'forgotten campaign' in the liberation of France
Gallery
VIDEO: French bucket list - The 12 best things to do in France
International
Do three French cities deserve to be in top 10 "World 's Most Unfriendly"?
Gallery
Don't make a faux pas! Ten things not to do when working in France
Health
Ebola: What is the risk of it coming to France?
Health
Are the French really a nation of smokers?
Culture
Frightened by the prospect of long French dinners? You're not alone
National
'Stay in Paris in August? You'd have to be crazy'
International
Calais migrant crisis: 'People will be killed if nothing is done'
Culture
Paris is closed for August, but will it always be like that?
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