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AMSTERDAM -- The Institute for Investigating Corporate Information, which serves as the disciplinary board of the Netherlands' Institute for Registered Accountants, has formally censured Deloitte & Touche accountant John Van den Vries for failing to fulfill his professional duties during the accounting scandal at Ahold's U.S. Foodservice division, according to published reports.
The ruling, which is as yet unpublished, paves the way for shareholders to seek compensation from Deloitte & Touche, which oversaw Ahold's finances between 1999 and 2002, a period when U.S. Foodservice was reporting inflated profits.
The firm and the accountant have contended that U.S. Foodservice officials deliberately hid the fraud from them. The scandal eventually broke in early 2003, pushing Ahold to the verge of bankruptcy.
In the wake of the scandal, a number of senior officials at Ahold resigned and were subsequently convicted and fined in the Netherlands on a lesser charge, that of improperly consolidating some subsidiaries as fully owned when the company actually had just a 50 percent stake. A number of U.S. Foodservice executives are currently facing trials in the United States.