`Two Plead Guilty in Olive Oil Fraud Scheme, Sentenced to Two Years in Jail


Two Plead Guilty in Olive Oil Fraud Scheme, Sentenced to Two Years in Jail

Dec. 17, 2011
Julie Butler

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Two Andalu­sian busi­ness­men have been sen­tenced to two years in jail for their part in the dis­tri­b­u­tion of hun­dreds of thou­sands of liters of fraud­u­lent olive oil in Spain in 2005 and 2006.

Passed off as extra vir­gin olive oil, pros­e­cu­tors say the oil was actu­ally a mix­ture of 70 – 80 per­cent sun­flower oil and just 20 – 30 per­cent olive oil. Dur­ing a hear­ing in the Cór­doba provin­cial court in Sep­tem­ber they sought nine years jail and fines of 8,760 euros ($11,560) for each of the accused.

Accord­ing to El Día de Cór­doba, on Thurs­day the pair, iden­ti­fied only by their ini­tials — JMAM and JJCJ — and both from Cór­doba province, admit­ted their role in the fraud and accepted a two-year sen­tence. A third man, FAM, was acquit­ted.

The three were among more than ten peo­ple arrested as part of Oper­a­tion Cho­les­terol.’ A national inves­ti­ga­tion in Spain in 2006, it fol­lowed com­plaints of sus­pected olive oil adul­ter­ation which were sub­stan­ti­ated in test­ing by regional author­i­ties.

In its ini­tial indict­ment, the pros­e­cu­tion said the men had used their cook­ing oil pack­ag­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pa­nies to mix the olive and sun­flower oil. Some E141 – a food addi­tive not approved for use in cook­ing oils – was then added to make the oil’s color akin to EVOO.


The oil was later labeled as EVOO in 5‑liter metal and plas­tic con­tain­ers and sold in Andalu­sia, Cat­alo­nia and in other parts of the Mediter­ranean coast. It was dis­trib­uted by two meth­ods: mainly as gifts to peo­ple on orga­nized bus tours but also in sales to small estab­lish­ments and wine cel­lars. Police also closed an online dis­tri­b­u­tion net­work for some of the oil.

JMAM was said to be in charge of sales of the fraud­u­lent oil to whole­salers in the food and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor.

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