Three Tesco Executives Charged Over Accounting Scandal

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has announced today that three former Tesco executives are being charged for their role in the retailer’s 2014 accounting scandal.

The SFO said it was charging Carl Rogberg, the former Finance Director of Tesco UK, Christopher Bush, the former Managing Director of Tesco UK, and John Scouler, the former Commercial Director for food, with one count of Fraud by Abuse of Position, contrary to section 1 and 4 of the Fraud Act 2006 and one count of False Accounting contrary to s17 Theft Act 1968.

The alleged activity occurred between February 2014 and September 2014.

All three have been requisitioned to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 22 September. Reports suggested that, if found guilty, the three could be handed prison sentences of up 10 years.

The SFO added that its investigation into Tesco remained ongoing but should be concluded by the end of this year.  Analysts have suggested the group could face fines of up £500m from the SFO with shareholders also seeking significant compensation in a separate action for their losses as a result of the scandal.

A statement issued by Tesco in response to the SFO charges said: “We note the decision of the SFO to bring a prosecution against former colleagues in relation to historic issues and acknowledge the investigation into the Company is ongoing. 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.”

Tesco was engulfed in scandal in October 2014 when it revealed it had overstated its profits by more than £260m in an issue related to when promotional payments received from suppliers were booked. The events prompted a major shake-up of Tesco under a new Chief Executive Dave Lewis with a host of senior executives losing their jobs.

NAM Implications:
  • An ongoing distraction for Tesco in-house
  • Meanwhile, the issue for suppliers has to be how trade investment monies are booked in the future
  • Hopefully, the SFO investigation and trial will result in clarification and standardisation in an historically ill-defined aspect of the business
  • Meanwhile, best to think retrospective results-based payment to agreed KPIs, minimum