Three charged over Tesco accounts fraud
Three former Tesco executives have been charged as part of a continuing investigation into accounting irregularities at the supermarket giant in 2014.
Carl Rogberg, Christopher Bush and John Scouler have been charged with fraud and false accounting, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said.
The three are due to appear in court on 22 September.
Tesco said there had been "an extensive programme of change" since 2014.
Mr Bush was managing director of Tesco UK, Mr Rogberg was UK finance director and Mr Scouler was UK food commercial director.
Mr Bush's solicitor said that he was not guilty and planned to fight the allegations.
The SFO started a criminal investigation in October 2014, a week after Tesco announced that its profits had been overstated by £263m.
Later, that figure was revised upwards to £326m when Tesco included previous accounts.
Auditors found that the inflated profit figure was the result of Tesco booking payments from suppliers before the company had been due the money.
The affair damaged the company's share price and led to court action by US shareholders.
In November last year, Tesco paid $12m (£9m) to settle a lawsuit alleging that accounting irregularities had inflated the share price of the company.
The company was also being investigated by the UK's Financial Reporting Council (FRC), which polices accountants. The regulator has since closed its investigation into Laurie McIlwee, the former chief financial officer at Tesco.
The FRC, however, is still investigating Tesco's accountants PwC as to how the firm audited its accounts in the run up to the scandal.
Tesco said in a statement: "We note the decision of the SFO to bring a prosecution against former colleagues in relation to historic issues and acknowledge the investigation into the company is ongoing.
"Tesco continues to cooperate with the SFO's investigation. The last two years have seen an extensive programme of change at Tesco, but given this is an ongoing legal matter, we are unable to provide any further comment at this time."
Mr Scouler is now commercial director at the telecoms company TalkTalk.
In a statement Talk Talk said: "We are aware of the SFO's announcement, but as this is an ongoing investigation unrelated to TalkTalk we cannot comment further."
Sarah Wallace, head of the regulatory and criminal Investigation team for the law firm, Irwin Mitchell, said: "The role of the SFO is to investigate and sometimes prosecute allegations of serious fraud and financial crime.
"In recent years, the SFO focussed on investigating well-known, high-profile, global companies. I don't know what the outcome of this investigation involving Tesco will be. but Tesco's is a household name that we all know."