September 4, 2017 / 1:23 PM / 22 days ago

Trial of former Tesco executives adjourned to September 25

FILE PHOTO - Christopher Bush (R) former Tesco UK managing director arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

LONDON (Reuters) - The trial of three former senior executives at Tesco (TSCO.L) accused of fraud and false accounting was adjourned on Monday until Sept. 25.

Christopher Bush, who was managing director of Tesco UK, Carl Rogberg, who was UK finance director, and John Scouler, who was UK food commercial director, are all charged with one count of fraud by abuse of position and one count of false accounting at Britain’s biggest retailer.

All three pleaded not guilty at a hearing on Aug. 3.

The case, which is due to last around 10 to 12 weeks, follows an overstatement of Tesco’s profit forecast in 2014.

Tesco issued a statement to the London Stock Exchange on Sept. 22, 2014 saying that during final preparations for an interim results announcement it had identified a 250 million pound overstatement of its expected profit for the half year, mainly due to booking commercial deals with suppliers too early.

In the following weeks the company suspended eight senior members of staff including Bush, Rogberg and Scouler. Tesco’s shares tumbled and the company was plunged into the worst crisis in its near 100-year history.

The estimated profit overstatement, which was identified three weeks after Dave Lewis joined Tesco as chief executive, was later raised to 263 million pounds.

Lewis took over from Phil Clarke, who had been fired due to the company’s poor performance. No charges have been brought against Clarke or Lewis.

The overstatement concerned guidance published by Tesco in a trading update on Aug. 29, 2014, downgrading its outlook.

According to the charges, Bush, Rogberg and Scouler concealed Tesco’s true financial position from its auditors and other employees between Feb. 1, 2014 and Sept. 23, 2014.

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Keith Weir and Alexander Smith

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