A Dutch court has found the former Ahold CEO Cees van der Hoeven and former chief financial officer Michiel Meurs guilty of fraud.

The judge Frans Bauduin will pronounce sentence on the two former executives and judgments on two other defendants in due course. The prosecution has asked for jail sentences of 14 months for Van der Hoeven and Meurs.

The scandal which precipitated the fraud trial took Ahold to the brink of bankruptcy three years ago, with Van der Hoeven and Meurs accused of improperly booking sales from four subsidiaries in Scandinavia, Argentina and Brazil. Ahold had publicly stated that it had 50% controlling stakes in these companies but other secret letters suggested both men knew control of these entities was not resolved.

In addition, the executives had exaggerated sales at Ahold's US Foodservice subsidiary. In a separate case in the US, the two men had reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accepting a lifetime ban from holding office in a publicly traded company but not admitting guilt.

Both men resigned in February 2003 after Ahold revealed the fraud. The company's shares fell by around 70% overnight and the retailer had to restate its 2002 accounts, booking a EUR4.33bn (US$5bn) loss.