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    Ahold Headquarters Raided in Criminal Probe

    Possible falsification of accounts is raised; Dutch prosecutor investigates.

    AMSTERDAM -- A Dutch public prosecutor initiated a criminal investigation into possible falsification of accounts at Ahold over the weekend, raiding the company's headquarters, Reuters reported.

    "Ahold has given its full cooperation to this investigation and is cooperating fully with the Dutch public prosecutor, as it has been doing and will continue to do with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with their ongoing investigations," the beleaguered retailer said in a statement.

    Ahold, one of the largest foodservice retailers with a portfolio packed with major supermarket chains and more than 200 convenience stores under the Wilson Farms, Sugarcreek and other banners, has struggled financially since uncovering "intentional accounting irregularities" at its U.S. Foodservice subsidiaries and Tops Markets.

    Cees van der Hoeven, Ahold's chairman and chief executive, and Michael Meurs, chief financial officer, resigned over the matter in February. Tops Markets CEO Frank Curci was also forced to resign last month.

    The public prosecutor said Monday the specialized fiscal and economic crime unit, FIOD-ECD, had raided offices of Ahold and its accountants Deloitte & Touche on Saturday in a probe concerning the consolidation of joint ventures in Sweden/Norway, Brazil, Guatamala and Argentina. The criminal investigation comes just one week after Ahold finished its own probe into almost a billion dollars in bookkeeping irregularities.

    A spokeswoman for Ahold said "several boxes" of documents had been seized, but declined further comment. "It would be improper for me to comment while the investigation is continuing," she said.

    Marcel Baas of Deloitte & Touche said the accountants' offices in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven had been raided and a "considerable amount of documents" had been confiscated.

    Deloitte & Touche was being probed "in a quality of witness," and had received a prior notification of the prosecutor's visit, the report said.

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