Eight supervisors of Carrefour stores in Beijing received jail sentences of one to five years on Monday, for taking bribes from suppliers.
Seven worked in the meat-procurement departments of the stores and one at the Carrefour Beijing City Commission Unit, a purchasing and operations department.
The Chaoyang District People's Court heard they took bribes from two suppliers from May 2005 to July last year, to promote their products.
Liu Yong, head of the raw and chilled meat department of the unit, was found to have accepted 114,000 yuan ($16,000) in commissions from the two food suppliers based in Beijing.
He was sentenced to five years' imprisonment.
"I had the power to decide which supplier to sign agreements with and how much to purchase," the 30-year-old told a hearing on Thursday.
"There are so many producers with the same products hoping to sell to Carrefour. They realized things would be smoother if they gave me money, Liu said.
The suppliers further bribed the supervisors of the meat-procurement departments after their products appeared on the shelves of Carrefour.
Liu Lianjie of the store's Maliandao outlet in downtown Beijing, said he had helped place the products at strategic positions to promote sales.
Liu initially refused to admit his offense.
"Giving money is a hidden rule of the industry," he said.
Liu received two bank deposit books from the two companies for monthly commissions. More than 23,000 yuan was found to have been credited to his account.
He received a jail term of 14 months.
The other six, Zhang Wenguo got two years; Xu Changjiang 16 months; Li Jianmin 15 months; Wei Zhengjun 14 months; Ge Yanzhi one year; Xu Zeyan one year. They received bribes ranging from 17,000 yuan to 31,000 yuan through bank deposit books.
The court said the sentences were light, after taking into consideration "they had confessed".
Liu Yong's bribe money has been returned. He has lodged an appeal over the severity of his sentence.
The cases came to light following an internal graft crackdown by the retailer, China Business News reported earlier.
Paris-based Carrefour authorizes its local managers to be in charge of pricing, choose suppliers, conduct negotiations on promotional campaigns, and arrange store displays.
This high degree of flexibility has encouraged endemic bribe taking, the newspaper reported.
Corruption has been one of the biggest problems for foreign companies operating on the mainland, it said.
(China Daily July 2, 2008)