HE held a position of trust with his company and in the community but today Andrew Behagg, a former finance director of potato supplier Greenvale, was jailed for three years.

He was one of three men sent down for a multi million pound scam that involved showering gifts and hospitality towards a Sainsbury’s buyer in return for lucrative, and over priced, contracts.

Behagg, 60, of London Road, Chatteris, and former Greenvale director David Baxter involved Sainsbury’s potato buyer John Maylam in their scam.

Maylam, 45, of Maidstone, admitted corruption and acquiring criminal property and was jailed for four years at Croydon Crown Court.

Baxter, 50, of Market Drayton also admitted corruption and acquiring criminal property and was jailed for 30 months.

Behagg, 60, was found guilty of corruption last month after agreeing payments to Maylam. He was jailed for three years.

Judge Nicholas Ainley had told Behagg after the trial ended: “For any case of this magnitude a sentence of imprisonment is almost inevitably passed, and a significant one at that.”

Behagg, of London Road, was the only defendant to deny the charge: Maylam and Baxter had both admitted corruption.

Sainsbury’s was overcharged by a total of £3.8million by Greenvale. The extra money went into an account, and then some of it was channelled to the buyer, Maylam, who then splashed out on lavish meals and stays at top London hotels.

The crime was uncovered when a Greenvale employee grew suspicious when he was asked to withdraw £5,000 bundles in £50 notes from Lloyds TSB’s Chatteris branch.

Jurors heard Simon Forster, a group financial accountant, investigated and found payments were being entered into their financial system as “entertaining” expenses and then written off as “raw materials” or storage costs for potatoes at fictitious firms.

Mr Forster said that when he raised the payments with Behagg, one of the signatories of the account used to withdraw the cash, he was told they were “rebates” and part of a “scheme”.

Mr Forster told the trial that because the Chatteris branch of Lloyds was so small, he had to give them prior warning that he was coming to pick up the cash so they could have enough of the high-value notes brought in to pay out.

Behagg told the court Greenvale had a two-year contract, worth £40million a year, to supply almost half of Sainsbury’s UK potatoes at the time of the alleged corruption.

He said it was “highly improper” that Maylam was being paid cash out of an account that Sainsbury’s did not know existed.

Maylam and Baxter were arrested after the company’s external auditor was alerted.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “This was an unacceptable and calculated crime against Sainsbury’s of a magnitude never experienced in our history.”