Deloitte named in Ahold shareholder suit

The latest shareholder lawsuit against Ahold also names accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu as a defendant, citing its role as auditor of the Dutch supermarket retailer that has disclosed it overstated earnings for 2001 and 2002 by about $500 million, lawyers said on Thursday.

Law firm Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP said in a statement that it filed a complaint on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New York against Ahold, Deloitte and certain Ahold executives and directors.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, alleges that the defendants issued materially false and misleading statements to inflate the company's share price.

Ahold shares have fallen about 65 percent this week.

A Deloitte spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Ahold was not available for comment.

Since Ahold disclosed the overstatement earlier this week, the accounting firm has stood by its work and pointed out that it discovered the irregularities and suspended its audit pending completion of investigations.

Ahold, whose U.S. grocery chains include Giant, Bi-Lo and Stop & Shop, stunned markets on Monday when it said its auditors had found accounting irregularities at its U.S. Foodservice business and its chief executive and chief financial officer quit.

On Tuesday, two other law firms filed suit against Ahold on behalf of shareholders who lost money in the stock's huge sell-off.

In midday New York Stock Exchange trade, Ahold shares were up 64 cents at $3.75. The stock had closed Friday at $10.69.

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