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Tesco fraud trial collapses

Member: Nifa

The former UK Finance Director of Tesco, Carl Rogberg, was cleared this week of fraud and false accounting, while another trial of Tesco’s former UK CEO and the former Commercial Director collapsed last month after the judge ruled the evidence to be “too weak”.

Both trials were brought on the allegation that the supermarket’s profits in 2014 were overstated by £250 million.

Carl Rogberg was accused by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of manipulating Tesco’s figures to meet targets and make the business look more financially robust than it actually was.

Mr Rogberg vehemently denied the charges and attacked the SFO as he left court, saying that the trial had had serious consequences on his health, career and family.

He also accused Tesco of not properly investigating the circumstances surrounding the accounts from the outset.

This was made worse by the fact that the SFO adopted the supermarket’s approach “uncritically”, in Mr Rogberg’s opinion and failed to carry out a professional investigation.

Instead, Mr Rogberg said, he was “thrown under the bus” and has had to endure more than four years of being under the cloud of suspicion.

Tesco paid £129 million to the SFO as part of a so-called ‘deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), which is a form of punishment by consent without the neeed for a conviction to have first been obtained. Tesco also agreed to pay £3 million for investigation costs.

A thorough forensic accountancy investigation would have involved searching for significant financial evidence proof that pointed to the innocence or guilt of the defendants.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon said: “The fact that the judge last month found the evidence “too weak” is a blow to the reputation of the SFO but will have come as a huge relief to the defendants”.

Author: Roger Isaacs 29 January 2019

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