Trial begins for trio of former Tesco executives accused of fraud

Lucy White
John Scouler will stand trial tomorrow along with Carl Rogberg and Christopher Bush (Source: Getty)

Three former Tesco executives accused of fraud and false accounting are due to finally stand trial at Southwark Crown Court tomorrow, in one of the most high-profile cases ever brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Carl Rogberg, Christopher Bush and John Scouler have each been charged with one count of false accounting and one count of fraud by abuse of position. All three pleaded not guilty at a hearing last month, and face up to seven and 10 years in prison for each charge respectively.

The allegations stem from an overstatement of Tesco's profit forecast in 2014, which – when revealed – caused the company's share price to plummet 11 per cent in one morning. The scandal broke just weeks after Dave Lewis took over as chief executive of the supermarket giant, replacing his ousted predecessor Philip Clarke.

Read more: Four Tesco senior executives "step aside" and FCA called in as share price plummets 11pc after "profit overstatement"

Eight senior members of staff were then suspended after an investigation revealed accounting irregularities, and the SFO later charged former UK finance director Rogberg, ex-UK operations managing director Bush and former UK food commercial director Scouler in 2016.

The trial has already been adjourned once, earlier this month, for legal reasons.

The SFO is alleging that the trio concealed Tesco's true financial position from its auditors and other employees between February and September 2014.

In April the SFO announced it had secured a £129m Deferred Prosecution Agreement against Tesco for the accounting fraud, meaning the company escaped further legal battles by paying up and agreeing to cooperate with ongoing investigations.

The fraud agency has a number of other notable cases on the horizon, including the prosecution of Barclays and four former executives on charges relating to emergency funding supplied at the height of the financial crisis.

Read more: The Serious Fraud Office's Barclays probe: Everything you need to know

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