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James L. Miller, president of the embattled US Foodservice division of Ahold, has written a letter to the company’s customers blaming the firm’s woes on "a few trusted employees" who "let our company down."

Furthermore, Miller said that the resignations of Ahold’s CEO and CFO had nothing to do with US Foodservice. "Their resignations are the result of events that occurred outside the United States," Miller wrote, implying that the $500 million in overstated revenue at US Foodservice was unrelated to the executives’ departure.

However, Ahold headquarters released a statement indicating that top management could not “stand by” Miller’s letter, and would not support his claim that US Foodservice was not connected to the forced resignations -- an intriguing statement considering Miller is on Ahold’s board of directors. “Mr. Miller's business is under investigation,” the company said.

In his letter, Miller did his best to distance himself and the company from the isolated actions of individuals. “Unfortunately, there may be some validity to some of the reports" of "alleged accounting issues" at US Foodservice, Miller wrote. "To my utter surprise and dismay, it has been reported to me that a few trusted employees worked outside our accepted accounting procedures and let our company down,”

Miller wrote that "the individuals in question have been suspended . . . pending the outcome of ongoing investigations, and we have taken a series of steps to ensure that the kinds of actions they perpetrated on this company and on our reputation can never be repeated.” He also seemed to criticize the company’s outside auditors, Deloitte & Touche, saying that Deloitte “repeatedly assured me and other senior managers that our accounts were in proper order. Sadly, those assurances turned out not to be true.”
KC's View:
Miller clearly isn’t a devotee of Harry Truman. (For MNB users outside the US, President Truman kept a sign on his desk that read, “The buck stops here.”)

What does this statement say about “trusted” senior executives who seem awfully willing to cast the first stone?

The rift that appears to be developing between Miller and Ahold top management would suggest that the US Foodservice president perhaps ought to get his resume in shape…because we suspect that he won’t be working there for that much longer.

Ahold, of course, continues to be the story that keeps on giving…