The Ukrainian national anti-corruption agency has included Bonduelle in the list of foreign companies considered by Kyiv as “war financiers”.
The Bonduelle affair is not closed. The French group was implicated and placed by the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Agency in a list of “war financiers”bringing together 12 companies which calls for a boycott.
The company is alleged to have sent 10,000 Christmas food parcels to Russian soldiers along with a greeting card that read, “Dear Soldier, Happy New Year! We wish you all the best and a quick victory.” The Ukrainian agency also claims that Ekaterina Eliseeva, director of Bonduelle’s representative office in Russia, “studied at the FSB Academy (Russian espionage services) to become a translator”. You further indicate the continuation of your activities in Russia.
“Bonduelle has no intention of exiting the Russian market and continues to pay taxes, duties and other contributions to the Russian budget, thus financing the war”, adds the anti-corruption agency, which appoints directors Gregory Sanson and Guillaume Debrosse.
Contacted by BFM Business, the group said it did not have “a few comments to make”.
Bonduelle, in fact, has already denied having sent these parcels to Russian soldiers: “this information, as well as the statements attributed to the Bonduelle company and its management are totally false”.
“It is 100% fake, we have never done this kind of package,” a Bonduelle spokesperson assured us.
The group confirms that it sent food parcels, but they were intended for “food banks, in Russia and elsewhere internationally” in the “baskets of kindness” program. This project is quoted on the United Nations website. It was launched by ‘X5 Retail Group and Foodbank in 2015’ with the aim of ‘supporting people in need’.
As for Ekaterina Eliseeva’s training at the FSB, Bonduelle takes note of the facts, but specifies that it was “following a training course as a translator”, a job she did before resuming her studies in logistics and working in private companies such as Unilever or Danone, as reported by the way the article published in 2019 in the Russian edition of Forbes.
What remains is the continuation of Bonduelle’s activities in Russia which, with Leroy Merlin (also cited by the Ukrainian national anti-corruption agency) is one of the French companies accused “of having paid taxes, duties and other contributions to the Russian budget, thus financing the war”.
For the Ukrainian embassy in France, “Bonduelle remains in Russia and therefore, in principle, continues to make profits in a terrorist country that kills (Ukrainians). That said”.
The company has three factories in Russia and employs about 1,000 people, but explains this choice with its “food mission”, explained its spokesperson. The latter told us to provide food “for 146 million Russian consumers but also for 90 million consumers in neighboring countries, such as Georgia, Azerbaijan or Belarus”.