Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe has been sentenced to two years in an Egyptian jail after he allegedly tried to seize cheques linked to an Egyptian business the supermarket chain invested in 15 years ago.
The Times reported that, as the chief executive and most senior employee, Coupe was held responsible by the court in Giza even though he was not working at the retailer at that time.
He was convicted automatically as he did not attend court hearings and could be arrested if he travels to Egypt.
A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “We strongly refute the legal case in Egypt brought against our chief executive Mike Coupe. This relates to a historic commercial dispute in which Mr Coupe had no involvement.”
Sainsbury’s entered into a joint venture with a local partner called Amr El Nasharty in 1999, who then bought back Sainsbury’s shares in 2001 as it was not successful.
The spokeswoman explained that El Nasharty paid “with cheques that bounced”, which are held by the court.
“El Nasharty is now claiming Mike tried to seize these cheques on July 15 last year although Mike was in London at the time, so the case went to trial in September last year with no prior warning and he was convicted as he wasn’t there.
“We are trying to appeal it because even though it is clearly ridiculous, we don’t want him to have a conviction anywhere in the world.”