Dec 6, 2018

Tesco trial collapse heaps pressure on SFO

Chris Bush, Tesco's former UK boss, and John Scouler, the former commercial food director, were part of the so called "Cheshunt Eight" - a group of high ranking Tesco executives who were suspended after Britain's biggest retailer stunned the City in September 2014 by revealing that it had overstated its profits by £250m. After decades of growth, by 2014 Tesco was in trouble. Tesco has already paid a fine of £129m to the SFO in relation to the accounting scandal. It entered into what's called a deferred prosecution agreement, or DPA, with the SFO. The deal was with Tesco Stores Ltd and does not address whether liability of any sort applies to the larger parent group Tesco plc or any of its employees or former employees. "Although this case produced an outcome for the SFO in that Tesco entered a DPA, there will be questions asked whether they, as both an investigator and prosecutor, have sufficient financial and human resources to investigate highly complex cases to the level required," says Sarah Wallace of law firm Irwin Mitchell. "Not only did they look at their own practices to see what the SFO might find lurking in the skeleton cupboard, but the Tesco case laid the foundations for the Groceries Code Adjudicator, Christine Tacon, to begin the clean-up of dodgy supermarket practices."

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