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Serious Fraud Office under scrutiny

Emma Simpson

Business correspondent, BBC News

Tesco store
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The collapse of the Tesco trial has put the Serious Fraud Office under scrutiny.

The key witness was Amit Soni, a Tesco senior accountant. He was described as a "whistleblower" who co-commissioned an internal report to expose the gap in the accounts.

The prosecution claimed that when the resulting document landed on the desk of new chief executive Dave Lewis, it was like a hand grenade had gone off in the company.

However, when questioned by the defence, Mr Soni accepted that he had been unaware of improper accounting until he produced his report, which was written months after the problems were already spiralling out of control.

The defence argued that Mr Soni was not a whistleblower at all.

"If Mr Soni didn't know the accounts were unreliable, then how on earth was Mr Bush supposed to know that they were", his barrister, Adrian Darbishire QC, told the jury.

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Afren two motivated by 'greed' - SFO

More on those SFO convictions.

The SFO said the pair hatched a fraudulent scheme to secretly increase their pay after a shareholder revolt objected to their £6.6m and £3.8m salary packages.

Shahenshah and Ullah created a side deal with one of Afren’s Nigerian oil partners that would allow them to benefit from payments Afren would make, the SFO said.

Lisa Osofsky, director of the Serious Fraud Office said: “Greed motivated this crime. Osman Shahenshah and Shahid Ullah failed in their duties as company directors, abused their positions and lied to their board”.

Reuters said that legal representatives for Shahenshah and Ullah were not immediately available for comment.

Afren two convicted - SFO

Osman Shahenshah, former chief executive of Afren
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Osman Shahenshah, former chief executive of Afren

The Serious Fraud Office has announced that Osman Shahenshah and Shahid Ullah have been found guilty of fraud and money laundering offences by deceiving the Afren Board into agreeing a $300m business deal.

The criminal investigation into the former chief executive and chief operating officer of the collapsed oil and gas exploration company began in June 2015 following a self-report by the company, the SFO said.

The defendants were charged with four offences in September last year. The two men were found not guilty on a separate charge relating to a management buyout of another of Afren’s business partners, the SFO said.

The two personally received more than $17m and laundered $45m, the SFO said.

SFO launches probe into Ultra Algeria business

Ultra Electronics
Ultra Electronics

Ultra Electronics, the defence contractor, says that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has opened an investigation "into suspected corruption in the conduct of business in Algeria by Ultra, its subsidiaries, employees and associated persons".

The company said the probe follows a voluntary self-report by Ultra to the SFO and it said that it continues to co-operate with the agency.

It added: "Given the stage of these matters, it is not possible to estimate reliably what effect the outcome of this matter may have on the group."