September 3, 2017 / 7:35 AM / 5 months ago

Trial to begin of former Tesco executives accused of fraud

LONDON (Reuters) - Three former senior executives of Tesco accused of fraud and false accounting at Britain’s biggest retailer are due to go on trial on Monday in a London court.

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.

They pleaded not guilty at a hearing on August 3.

The case stems from an overstatement of Tesco’s profit forecast in 2014.

Carl Rogberg former Finance Director UK for Tesco Stores Limited leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

On Sept. 22, 2014 the group issued a statement to the London Stock Exchange saying that during its final preparations for an interim results announcement it 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.

John Scouler former Tesco commercial director for food arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

The estimated profit overstatement, identified three weeks after Dave Lewis took over as Tesco chief executive from Phil Clarke, was later raised to 263 million pounds. Clarke had been fired due to the company’s poor performance.

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

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