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Woolies sacks tea and coffee buyer

A Woolworths buyer has been sacked following a police investigation into a secret kickback scheme involving the grocery chain, according to media reports.

Bill Harvey, the national buyer for coffee, tea and sugar for Woolworths, was escorted out of the company’s NSW Bella Vista headquarters last Friday. He was initially suspended however his position was terminated yesterday.

Police are investigating claims that food wholesalers were forced to pay 15 to 20 per cent as a ‘promotional surcharge’ to have their product stocked.

Also being investigated are claims that Mr Harvey received a percentage of the promotional fees from coffee and tea suppliers who wanted to get their products onto Woolworths’ shelves. Victorian police have seized almost $50,000 in cash as part of the same operation.

While the investigation is focused on the tea and coffee industry Woolworths’ auditors and police are checking if the scheme relates to other products. The investigation involves wholesales and retailers in at least three states.

Woolworths has said it is not itself being investigated.

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