The death of Joseph Silveira, a director at Diamond Foods, comes amid a probe into payments to walnut growers

The death of Joseph Silveira, a director at Diamond Foods, comes amid a probe into payments to walnut growers

Diamond Foods has seen shares drop after it emerged that a company director has died.

Shares fell 17% to US$29.02 in late trading yesterday (22 November) after it was revealed that director Joseph Silveira had died on 15 November.

CNBC reported that the death was a suicide and that Silveira, a member of the snack maker's audit committee, had recused himself from an investigation into payments to walnut growers because he managed walnut properties.

Earlier this month, Diamond announced its $2.35bn acquisition of Pringles from consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble would be delayed for six months following the launch of the probe, which was sparked by an "external communication" sent to Diamond's board of directors.

Diamond insisted the death of Silveira was not linked to the investigation. "Joe served Diamond shareholders as a director with dignity and dedication for many years," a Diamond spokesperson told Bloomberg. "Any suggestion that his passing was somehow related to the accounting investigation by people seeking to profit by spreading such unfounded rumors is demeaning to his legacy."

The company released a tribute dated 17 November commemorating Joseph Silveira, who had been with the company since 2002.

Michael Mendes, chairman, president and CEO of Diamond, said: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of Joseph Silveira, a long-standing member of our board of directors.

"Joe's distinguished history with Diamond Foods traces back to his service on the board of our predecessor company. His many contributions to Diamond Foods and the California grower community, in which he was deeply involved, will be remembered by all who knew him."

Officials at Diamond could not be reached for further comment.