FBI link to Cedenco

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 12th November 2009

An investigation by the American FBI preceded the calling in of receivers at Australia’s largest tomato processor – Cedenco Foods Australia, but reports suggest the probe was related to a trust with links to the company rather than Cedenco itself.

Located in the town of Echuca, Cedenco operates the largest tomato-processing factory in the southern hemisphere. Earlier this year a company owned by their US owner filed for bankruptcy but Cedenco said at the time that their business was still performing well.

Cedenco entered receivership earlier this week, however, after “a breakdown in governance and ownership issues in the related New Zealand entity” – which recently met the same fate, saw the secured creditor (ANZ) appoint receivers across the Cedenco group.

It has now been reported by the ABC that an FBI probe preceded the ANZ decision, although the investigation was into US-based principals of a trust who had ownership links with the company and not Cedenco itself. The trustees are reportedly suspected of a number of crimes, including racketeering.

The FBI has advised that their investigation has not spread beyond America.

ANZ, which is owed $40 million, appointed receivers, KordaMentha, on Monday with the company to operate as normal through the peak season early next year as a suitable buyer is sought.

Meanwhile, the major shareholder of Cedenco is seeking legal advice on the matter, believing that ANZ did not have the right to call in receivers.