A meat supplier mixed cheap horsemeat with beef before flogging the ‘horsebeef’ to unsuspecting manufacturers of ready meals and burgers for supermarkets and caterers, a court heard.
London-based businessman Andronicos Sideras is accused of buying cheap cuts of horse then fraudulently selling it as ‘100% beef’ for vast profits.
The allegations relate to the 2013 ‘horse meat scandal’ which rocked Europe after tests on hundreds of beef products revealed traces of undeclared horse meat.
Thousands of items were pulled from supermarket shelves and it exposed serious concerns about the supply chain of food.
Two businessmen Alex Beech and Ulrik Nielson both from the Danish-based company Flexifoods have already admitted their part in the horsemeat scandal, a jury heard.
Inner London Crown Court heard Sideras, 55, played a “key role’ in their plot, bulking out beef with horsemeat to produce thousands of kilos of ‘horsebeef.”
Opening the trial today (Thurs), prosecutor Jonathan Polnay said: “This case, stripped to its essentials, is very straightforward.
“It is about lying to people and deceiving people so as to make money. Or to be more precise – to make more money.
“Like most, if not all, offences of dishonesty, it was motivated by greed.
“The fraud was simple. In 2012, beef sold for around three euros a kilogramme at wholesale prices. Horsemeat was cheaper – it sold for two euros a kilogramme.
“The people concerned in this case would sell meat, pretending it was all beef. In fact, it was a mixture of beef and horsemeat.
“The fraudsters made money by selling a mixture of expensive beef and cheap horsemeat as 100% expensive beef.”
It is alleged that Sideras, an owner of Tottenham-based Dino’s and Son, would mix the meats then make fake paperwork and labels to ‘make it look like beef’.
Mr Polnay told the jury Flexifoods, owned by Ulrik Nielson, would buy the horsemeat from suppliers across Europe – then arrange for it to be delivered to Sideras’s cold-store in Tottenham.
He said the meat would be mixed with beef and fake paperwork would be drawn up while Flexifood sold it to McAdams Food Products, a meat-trading company based in the Republic of Ireland owned by Martin McAdams.
Mr Polnay said: “It is not clear whether McAdams was in on the fraud – that is to say whether he was aware he was buying a mixture of horse and beef that was labelled as beef.
“McAdams had the contacts to sell the meat on to large meat production companies that make products for a vast range of well-known companies.
“It goes without saying that they would be told they were buying beef – they would not be interested in horsemeat.”
The meat would then be delivered directly from the Dino’s cold-store to the big companies, the jury was told.
Mr Polnay said: “It will be apparent that for the fraud to work, it needed someone to carry out the physical mixing of the meats.
“It needed someone to fix the documents, to make them look genuine.
“That key role was taken by this defendant – Andronicos Sideras.”
Sideras, denies conspiring with others to defraud purchasers.
Beech and Nielson pleaded guilty to fraud on October 26, 2016 and will be sentenced later.
The trial continues.