Former Tesco FD cleared in £250m accounting fraud

Carl Rogberg, the former UK finance director at Tesco, has been cleared over a £250m fraud and accounting scandal at the grocery retailer, after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) dropped the case against him, having already halted proceedings against two other senior executives

Rogberg was acquitted at Southwark crown court on 23 January. 

Last December a jury at the same court was told that Chris Bush, former Tesco UK managing director, and John Scouler, former UK food commercial director, had been acquitted by the Criminal Court of Appeal after judges backed the ruling of the trial judge, Sir John Royce, that they had no case to answer.  Royce said the prosecution case was ‘so weak’ it should not be put before a jury.

Rogberg was not part of the December retrial because of ill health following a heart attack. The original trial of all three men collapsed in 2018 when he was taken ill.

The three former members of the Tesco management team had all denied one count of fraud and another of false accounting, which related to a ‘black hole’ discovered in Tesco’s accounts in 2014.

A subsequent investigation into the six-month trading update for the period ending 23 August 2014 identified a £250m overstatement of Tesco’s expected profit for the half year, principally due to the accelerated recognition of commercial income and delayed accrual of costs.

Acting for Rogberg, Neil O'May of Norton Rose Fulbright said: 'This is more than simply an acquittal by a jury. It is a finding that there was insufficient evidence on which the case could have been brought. This is unprecedented in high-profile serious fraud cases.

'There must be real concern that a serious fraud case is brought without the SFO having expert accounting evidence in which to understand the nature of the case.

'There was also no real investigation undertaken to show whether or not there was indeed fraudulent activity as alleged at the level of buyers and suppliers.'

In 2017 Tesco entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the SFO, paying a £129m fine, and marking the conclusion of the regulator’s investigation into the retailer.

Report by Pat Sweet

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