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Serious Fraud Office

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Tesco to settle accounting scandal for £235 million

UK retail giant Tesco has confirmed it will pay out £235 million to settle separate investigations by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) concerning its 2014 accounting scandal.

Here’s how it breaks down, according to carious reports – The firm will will pay a fine of £129 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the SFO, although this deal requires court approval.

It will then separately pay the FCA something in the region of £85m in compensation to investors relating to the trading statement from August 2014 in which it overstated profits.

Tesco will also pay legal costs associated with the agreements, with thee total exceptional charge’ expected to be £235 million.

To recap, the SFO began its investigations back in October 2014 after a shortfall had been found in the retailers accounts relating to payments from suppliers of £326 million.

Three former executives, including ex-Tesco boss Chris Bush, former finance director Carl Rogberg and former commercial director John Scouler, were charged last year with offences including false accounting and fraud by abuse of position. All three are due to stand trial next year.

Tesco is accused of bringing forward payments to flatter its financial results as sales by the retailer fell.

It had been suggested that Tesco could be facing a substantially higher fine – In a January 2017 interview with The Guardian, Mike Dennis, analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald said that the SFO could fine Tesco more than £350m and force it to repay hundreds of millions of pounds to suppliers that it claimed in what has been called “arbitrary unjustified cash payments”.

 

Tesco also received lawsuits from shareholders relating to the scandal, although it is believed that some of these have been settled amicably.

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SFO to investigate Chappell and Sutton on £1 BHS purchase…

According to a number of reports, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has commenced an official investigation into the former owner of BHS, Dominic Chappell and his business partner and convicted fraud criminal, Paul Sutton, which will focus on the negotiations leading up to the £1 purchase made in March 2015.

Although it is thought that Sutton was the initial bidder in purchasing BHS, a source informed Sir Phillip Green of Sutton’s past conviction and Chappell – who has been declared bankrupt three times – subsequently took over the deal.

The SFO investigation comes as it was announced earlier this month that two board members, Stephen Bourne and Mark Tasker, from Chappell’s Retail Acquisitions firm were placed under an Insolvency Service investigation to coincide with its analysis into the BHS collapse, and were allegedly paid £387,500 each for part in the acquisition deal.

The Guardian reports that Chappell owes the HMRC more than £500,000 on profits made as the owner of the collapsed retailer, and legal proceedings have begun to acquire the money. However, as the business has been put into liquidation, Chappell could walk away without paying a penny.  

 

Read more from The Guardian here