Three former Tesco executives have been charged with fraud by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in relation its accounting scandal.
The ex-financial director Carl Rogberg, former commercial director John Scouler and the former UK managing director Christopher Bush have been charged for their role in the retailer's profit overstatement.
They have each been charged with one count of fraud by abuse of position and one count of false accounting. The SFO said the alleged activity took place between February 2014 and September 2014. The ex-executives will appear in court on 22 September.
The SFO has been investigating the accountancy discrepancies that led Tesco to overstate its profits by more than £263m. The investigation is still ongoing.
Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis, who took the helm in September 2014, shortly after the accounting scandal erupted, has been focusing on turning the business around.
Several board members have been replaced, including chairman Richard Broadbent, and the company has been offloading unwanted assets such as its Giraffe restaurant chain.
Former chief financial officer Laurie McIlwee was recently cleared over the scandal by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC). McIlwee resigned his position as chief financial officer in April 2014, five months before the revelations emerged.
"There is no realistic prospect that a tribunal would make an adverse finding in relation to the conduct of Mr Laurie McIlwee," the FRC said.
The move marks something of a triumph for the SFO, which has been heavily criticised over a chequered history.
In a statement, Tesco said:
Tesco continues to cooperate with the SFO’s investigation. The last two years have seen an extensive programme of change at Tesco, but given this is an ongoing legal matter, we are unable to provide any further comment at this time.
Meanwhile, Hickman and Rose, Bush's solicitors, said: "Today Mr Bush has been notified that he is to be charged with allegations of being party to the overstating of profit by Tesco. He is extremely disappointed by this decision. He is not guilty and from the outset has fully cooperated with both Tesco and the SFO in their investigations. He will vigorously contest these allegations and is confident he will be cleared of any wrong doing."