China Probes Bribery Allegation in Tnuva Deal

YERUSHALAYIM -
A mock Tnuva cottage cheese container labeled “Made in China” was a prop in the protest against the 2014 sale of Israel’s largest food cooperative to a foreign country, which some argued would put the nation’s security at risk. (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

Chinese authorities said they were investigating the state-run Bright Food on suspicion of bribe-taking in the acquisition of Israel’s Tnuva in 2014, Globes reported Sunday.

Bright Food executives stand accused of having personally pocketed millions of dollars in an $8.6 billion deal that had been artificially inflated with misleading data as to Tnuva’s real worth, put at $2-$3 billion less than the sale price.

Last week, it was disclosed that Guo Benheng, Tnuva CEO on behalf of Bright Food, who disappeared a year ago, was sentenced to six years in prison on corruption charges.

Apax, the former owners of Tnuva, dismissed the allegations out of hand. “This is a complete nonsense. Our professional, ethical and business conduct is based on doing business in a fair and legal manner.”

Bright Food declined to comment, but sources close to the company were quoted as saying, “This report is probably unfounded. The affair in China probably has nothing to do with Tnuva.”

The Tel Aviv District Attorney (taxation and economics) said he had no knowledge of the affair.

Although Apax and shareholder Mivtach Shamir also profited handsomely in the deal, so far no evidence of violations by them have been reported.