NETHERLANDS - A court East Brabant has sentenced a 45-year-old man to 30 months imprisonment for his part in the horse meat scandal in 2012.
Willy Selten, a director of two companies, was found guilty of falsifying invoices, delivery notes and written statements and the use of these fake documents in trade in meat.
The international companies were engaged in purchasing, boning and cutting beef and marketing of meat.
When horse meat was found in beef burgers in Ireland and Britain, an investigation was conducted into Selten’s companies.
In February 2013, 35 samples out of 167 tested were found to contain the DNA of horses. All these products were sold as pure beef.
According to Selten these positive samples came about through carelessness and errors in the administration of the businesses.
The horse meat that should always be processed separately from the cattle and stored separately was mixed with beef.
The court found that there the companies purchased and processed at least 336,000 pounds of horse meat in 2011 and 2012.
However, the administration and financial accounting systems of the companies did not record that horse meat was processed.
It was also not on the sales invoices and accompanying papers that came with the horse meat.
The court said that Selten as a director of the companies had actually overseen the deliveries and was criminally liable. The companies themselves were declared bankrupt during the first half of 2013.
The court found no evidence of the use of false weighing lists.
The court found that Selten ordered the falsification and use of two bills to get extra credit from their own finance company.
The court found no evidence in 17 other cases.
In determining the sentence, the court said that Stelten misled his customers and ultimately the consumer, who thought they were buying pure beef.
This meant that Selten’s customers had their reputations damaged.
Because Selten also supplied to foreign customers, he contributed to a negative image of the Dutch meat industry.
The court said he was acting solely for profit.
The fact that the product mixed with horse meat was only a limited share of the total turnover of the companies, did not alter this, the court said.
He saved costs by purchasing the cheaper horse meat, mixing it with beef tallow and selling it as more expensive beef.
The court said he had committed an abuse of the trust put in him.
Two weeks ago, the prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of five years, however the court imposed a lesser sentence.
His companies are bankrupt and there are claims against him of €11 million.
TheMeatSite News Desk