THE SERIOUS Fraud Office (SFO) announced yesterday that it would take over from the Financial Conduct Authority in investigating a £263m hole in troubled Tesco’s accounts.
The retail giant previously said the profits had been overstated due to erroneous timings in accounting for supplier rebates.
It is the latest major case to land on the SFO’s plate, and comes just after the fraud squad asked the government for a £26.5m hike to its £35.2m budget to help it investigate.
It is currently running a series of investigations into former bankers and brokers accused of trying to manipulate Libor, a probe into Barclays’ 2008 fundraising in Qatar, and allegations of bribery at Rolls Royce.
The probe is also the latest in a long line of problems for Tesco. The supermarket has been losing market share over the past year, particularly to the hard discounters such as Aldi and Lidl.
It reported a 92 per cent fall in profits last week, with new chief executive Dave Lewis cracking down on costs and considering chopping prices across the retail chain.
At the same time its chairman, Sir Richard Broadbent, announced he would step down, to “carry the can” for the period of poor results.
“Tesco has been cooperating fully with the SFO and will continue to do so,” the company said in a statement.
Tesco’s shares rose 2.09 per cent on the day.