The three former Tesco executives charged with fraud over the grocer’s £263m accounting scandal will stand trial next September.
The supermarket giant’s ex-UK boss Christopher Bush, former UK finance director Carl Rogberg and ex-food commercial director John Scouler have been accused of acting dishonestly for personal gain and abusing their positions by falsely inflating supplier income.
The trio – who all pleaded not guilty last month – appeared at Southwark Crown Court today for a preliminary hearing, where the trial date was set.
Judge Alistair McCreath released all three men on unconditional bail until May 30 2017, when they will return for a plea hearing.
The trial will start on September 4 2017.
All three men were charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) last month with fraud by false accounting and fraud by abuse of position.
If found guilty, the charges carry sentences of up to seven and 10 years respectively.
The SFO has said that the investigation “remains ongoing”, leaving the door open for it to bring charges against other Tesco directors, or a fraud charge against the business itself.
Tesco is already facing legal action from a group of 60 shareholders, who claim to have lost £150m following the accounting scandal.
Bentham Europe, the firm funding the claim, said the investors were “misled by information inaccurately provided to the market” when the supermarket giant overstated profits by £263m back in 2014.
The grocer could face other claims after US law firm Scott & Scott set up Tesco Shareholder Claims – a vehicle that allows British and European investors to join forces.
Tesco boss Dave Lewis has spearheaded a drive to restore trust and transparency at the supermarket since taking the reins in September 2014.
Lewis has simplified the way Tesco negotiates with suppliers and has started including commercial income more explicitly in the grocer’s interim and preliminary profit statements.