Britain’s Serious Fraud Office is understood to be planning to announce a decision on whether to file criminal charges against individuals involved in the Tesco accounting scandal as soon as this month.
The SFO is thought to be looking to disclose any charges in the first half of September. The move would mark the start of a much-anticipated conclusion to a two-year investigation that has plagued the retailer.
The UK prosecutor was one of a number of agencies to open an investigation into Tesco’s accounting practices in 2014 after the company said it had overstated profits by £263m.
At least nine senior managers were suspended, most of whom have since left. A number of executives have been interviewed under caution by the SFO in the course of the probe, including former chief executive Philip Clarke.
The UK accounting regulator, the Financial Reporting Council, closed an investigation into Tesco’s former chief financial officer, Laurie McIlwee, last week saying there wasn’t a “realistic prospect” that misconduct would be found in the case.
Tesco has long been suspected as a candidate for a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA). Under such a deal prosecution would be suspended if the company agreed to conditions that can include paying a fine, repaying profits, and helping bring cases against individuals.
A key requirement of a DPA is co-operation from the company, which Tesco appears to have given. If the retailer is offered a DPA it would require approval from a UK judge.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved