Former pet food exec accused of stealing Mars’ documents

Mars Inc. accused a former pet food executive of stealing more than 6,000 corporate documents.

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(Piotr Adamowicz |
(Piotr Adamowicz |

Mars Inc. accused a former pet food executive of stealing 6,166 corporate documents. Mars filed a lawsuit against Jacek Szarynski and his current employer Pret Panera Holding, owned by JAB Holding Co.

According to court filings, Jacek Szarynski worked with Mars for 24 years. In his final role with Mars as global chief financial officer of Mars Petcare, he allegedly downloaded the documents. These files contained trade secrets and competitively-sensitive information, including Mars financial projection data, as well as financial results at a product-by-product, country-by-country and global level. The documents also contained Mars’ future strategic business planning on a country-by-country basis and acquisition opportunities.

Mars claims to have contacted Szarynski and JAB about the documents.

“He denied any wrongdoing,” wrote Mars’ lawyers in court paperwork. “Szarzynski’s reply tracked similar correspondence Mars had received from other former Mars employees and executives who had departed for JAB, suggesting that JAB drafted, or participated in the drafting of, that response.

“Troubled by Szarzynski’s pat response, Mars undertook a lengthy and expensive forensic examination to confirm Szarzynski’s denials.”

Following the results of the examination, Szarynski and JAB allegedly admitted that he had taken confidential Mars documents.

However, JAB does not agree with those assertions made in Mars’ lawsuit.

JAB response to Mars lawsuit

“The lawsuit is completely without legal merit,” Tom Johnson, CEO of Abernathy MacGregor, JAB’s public relations firm, told Petfood Industry in an email. “JAB has already extensively investigated the allegations through its outside counsel, Debevoise & Plimpton, and concluded that neither JAB nor Pret Panera has used or benefited in any way from any Mars information. We look forward to aggressively defending our conduct and proving our position in court.”

The case Mars Inc. v. Szarzynski, 1:20-cv-01344 was filed in that U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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