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Tesco’s former CEO to be questioned by SFO

| International retailers

Tesco’s former Chief Executive, Philip Clarke, is reportedly set to be interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over last year’s accounting scandal. .

Citing people with knowledge of the probe, a report by Bloomberg said that Clarke and ex-Commercial Director Kevin Grace are being asked to come in for interviews under caution as part of the SFO’s investigation. The report added that former UK Finance Director Carl Rogberg was questioned earlier this summer, whilst ex-head of UK operations Chris Bush has also been summoned to talk to the SFO.

The SFO began its probe into Tesco last October after supermarket revealed that it had overstated its profits by £263m - a figure that has since risen to over £300m. As well as the SFO probe, Tesco is facing a lawsuit from disgruntled shareholders who saw the value of their stakes in the company plummet after the revelation came to light. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is also probing the role of Tesco’s accountant at the time PwC in the scandal, whilst the Groceries Code Adjudicator is investigating the supermarket over delayed payments to suppliers.

The Bloomberg report said that the SFO’s main investigation could be completed by the end of the year with Tesco reaching an early settlement given its high level of cooperation. The group could benefit from a so-called deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) where a prosecution is suspended for a period of time in return for a company cooperating and agreeing to a number of conditions such as paying a fine and helping bring cases against individuals.

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