Former Tesco executives "misled" the stock market, court told in fraud trial

 
Alys Key
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Christopher Bush (second from left) arrives at Southwark Crown Court

The stock market was "misled" by the actions of three former Tesco executives on trial for fraud, prosecutors told a court earlier today.

Christopher Bush, Carl Rogberg, and John Scouler, who all held senior positions at the retailer, are on trial for charges of fraud and false accounting.

In opening arguments today, lead prosecutor Sasha Wass said the men had acted in their pursuit of gaining substantial pay packages.

Southwark Crown Court was also told that the defendants had pressurised junior colleagues into compliance with the scheme.

Wass described them as the "generals" rather than the "footsoldiers" at the company.

“The defendants in this case are the generals in a position of trust and had huge compensation packages to safeguard the financial health of Tesco,” she said.

The charges relate to accounting practices at Tesco during 2014, when profit estimates were overstated by about £250m. The resulting drop in Tesco's share price when the overstatment was revealed wiped more than £2bn off the company's value.

Eight members of staff were suspended in the wake of the scandal, with the three on trial today charged with fraud by the SFO towards the end of last year.

The trial began on Monday this week but has not got underway until today.

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