Recent press reports suggest that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into the supermarket giant, Tesco, is reaching a conclusion and that charges are likely to be brought imminently.
The SFO investigation commenced in October 2014 following an announcement by Tesco that its finances had been overstated by £250m - although this figure has subsequently increased to £326m. It has been alleged that Tesco manipulated the timing of payments by suppliers to mask poor profit results.
Last summer, the SFO interviewed Tesco’s former Chief Executive, Philip Clarke, and other former senior executives under caution and in the autumn, the press reported that Tesco was in discussions with the SFO regarding the terms of a possible Deferred Prosecution Agreement. Both the SFO and Tesco have declined to comment further, but it is understood that the SFO has recently secured approval for an extra £15.5m to fund “blockbuster investigations”. With this funding in place, it seems likely that matters in this case will be progressed swiftly in the coming months.