A former Sainsbury’s buyer and two former senior employees of potato giant Greenvale have been sentenced to lengthy stays in prison for their roles in a multimillion-pound corruption case.

John Maylam, a former Sainsbury’s buyer in charge of potatoes, was given a four-year sentence at Croydon Crown Court today, while former Greenvale finance director Andrew Behagg and former Greenvale account director David Baxter were given three years and 30 months respectively.

Both Maylam (left) and Baxter (centre) had pleaded guilty to corruption and money laundering charges last year. Behagg (right) maintained he was innocent and the victim of extortion by Maylam but was found guilty of corruption after a jury trial last month.

Maylam and Baxter siphoned off £4.9m into foreign bank accounts by overcharging Sainsbury’s on a number of high-volume potato lines supplied by Greenvale, particularly baking and Charlotte varieties.

Maylam also received excessive corporate hospitality, including trips to Monaco and the South of France, and outings on a luxury yacht. At one point, Maylam purchased a £94,000 black Aston Martin from money conned out of Sainsbury’s.

Detective Superintendent Tony Crampton, of the City of London Police, said Maylam and Baxter both had good jobs with decent salaries but wanted a place on “millionaire’s row”.

“They cooked up an elaborate fraud that saw them divert seven-figure sums from their employers’ accounts,” he said. “They were greedy for a luxury lifestyle – frittering the money away on frivolous spending only made possible by Behagg’s complicity.”

“The men thought their fraud was so complex they would not be detected. However, the meticulous four-year investigation by the City of London Police brought them to justice, which cost them their personal freedom and put an end to their careers.”

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said it was pleased justice had been done. “Today’s sentencing sends a very clear message to anyone that behaves in this way that there are consequences to their actions,” she said. “We demand the highest standards of all our colleagues and suppliers and Sainsbury’s code of conduct clearly details how we expect them to behave, and is reinforced by our confidential whistle-blowing line.”

A spokesman for Greenvale’s parent company, Produce Investments – which acquired Greenvale in early 2006 – said it did not tolerate any form of bribery, corruption or other wrongdoing.

“We would like to point out that we instigated the investigation in early 2008 and Andrew Behagg and David Baxter ceased to be Greenvale employees shortly thereafter,” he said.

“Since 2008 we have introduced strict new procedures to make sure that such abuse is now impossible. Consequently our relationship with Sainsbury’s is on a sound footing.”