British retailer J Sainsbury has defended its CEO Mike Coupe and refuted all allegations against him, after the CEO was convicted in an Egyptian court and sentenced for two years in jail.
The Times earlier reported that Coupe was convicted, in absentia, over claims that in July 2014 he tried to seize cheques connected with the collapse of a business it invested in 16 years ago, violating Egyptian bankruptcy laws. He could be arrested if he travels to Egypt.
The case is related to the company's sale of its share in a loss-making retail venture in Egypt to Amr El Nasharty, who later accused the UK chain of selling him shares in a business that was insolvent. Sainsbury's is claiming that El Nasharty paid with cheques that bounced.
"This relates to a historic commercial dispute in which Mike Coupe had no involvement and we strongly refute all the allegations," the company said in a statement.
"Mike Coupe was not employed by Sainsbury's at the time of the original business deal in 2001 and has never met the complainant."
The company added that when El Nasharty bought its interest in the Egyptian joint venture we had with him in 2001, he paid it with cheques that were dishonoured. El Nasharty is now claiming that Mike was in Egypt on 15 July 2014 and seized these cheques, which is impossible, according to the company.
"Mike Coupe was in London carrying out his normal duties that day," the company said.
"We have taken all necessary steps to appeal against these groundless claims and will continue to do so."
Sainsbury's added that the process is being handled by its legal team and it does not anticipate any material operational or financial impact on the company due to the issue.