Baugur boss cleared Published: 02 July, 2007
THE billionaire head of the Baugur Group, which owns the Iceland freezer store chain in the UK has been cleared of his conviction for false accounting.
The Reykjavík District Court found the former chief executive of Baugur Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, who is currently the chairman of the companys board, not guilty on charges of fraud and embezzlement relating to a credit invoice for around £296,000.
The court changed its ruling in May when Jóhannesson, who has always vigorously denied the charges, was given a three-month suspended sentence. He had appealed to the Supreme Court of Iceland, which sent the case back to Reykjavík District Court with its ruling on June 1.
All charges against Jóhannesson were related to alleged illegal loan granting. Reykjavík District Court concluded that in four of the nine charges, violations of regulations on corporations had taken place, but due to unclear penal guidelines, the judges concluded Jóhannesson could not be convicted for any of the charges. There have also been claims – strongly denied by the Icelandic Government – that the fraud investigation was politically motivated.
At the same May hearing, Baugurs former director Tryggvi Jónsson was given a nine-month suspended sentence on charges of fraud and embezzlement, and the Reykjavík District Court has now changed it to a 12-month suspended sentence.
Baugur’s UK investments range from the Hamleys toy store, to House of Fraser department store group. But last month it was said to be ready to swoop for Brakes, the UK’s largest food service distributor and the owner of M&J Seafoods although it has never confirmed these reports.
The business was founded in 1989 by Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson and his father Jóhannes Jónsson on the premise that it would always provide the lowest prices on the Icelandic food and seafood market. They began by opening one Bónus store in Reykjavík and within three years there were Bónus stores throughout the country.
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