Sentencing date is February 8
Former marketing executive at Dutch grocery giant Ahold, Mark Kaiser, has been found guilty by a federal jury of participating in an US$800 million (£426.2 million) accounting fraud at the retailer's US Foodservice subsidiary.

Kaiser faced charges of conspiracy, securities fraud and making false filings. He was found guilty on all counts and is due to appear on February 8 for sentencing. He faces life in prison under federal guidelines.

The former marketing executive is the last of more than 15 who faced charges that stemmed from the fraud.

Michael Resnick, the former US Foodservice finance chief, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in September. The company's former purchasing chief, Timothy Lee, and another senior purchasing executive, William Carter, also pleaded guilty. More than a dozen vendors, who admitted assisting the foodservice to falsify records by submitting false verification of purchase orders, have also pleased guilty.

Lee testified against Kaiser at the trial. But Kaiser's lawyers claimed Lee's accusations were false in order to win himself leniency from prosecutors.

Ahold has avoided criminal prosecution following a US$1.1 billion (£586 million) out-of-court settlement with investors.

The case, which first came to light in 2003, led to the departure of chief executive officer Cees van der Hoeven and chief financial officer Michiel Meurs. Both were given nine months suspended jail sentences in May.

Ahold has 4,000 grocery stores in Europe and the US. The company will also dispose of its outlets in Slovakia and Poland, despite the Netherlands based supermarket group reporting consolidated net sales up 0.7 per cent to US$13.1 billion (£6.91 billion) for the third quarter, against the previous year.

The grocery's management said it decided to withdraw from Slovakia and Poland because extensive investment would be needed to secure a leading market position.

Ahold has set itself the target to cut group operating costs by E500 million (£335 million) by the year 2009.