Two former directors at Tesco have gone on trial, accused of manipulating figures that resulted in the firm’s profits being overstated by £250m.
Chris Bush, Tesco’s former UK managing director, and ex-UK food commercial director John Scouler are each charged with one count of fraud and false accounting.
Former UK finance chief Carl Rogberg, charged with the same offences, is not well enough to stand trial.
All three men deny the charges.
In opening arguments at Southwark Crown Court, Sasha Wass, QC for the prosecution, described Mr Bush and Mr Scouler as “generals” and claimed that the “foot-soldiers” working below them were “pressurised and coerced” into wrongly including income into Tesco’s financial records to hit targets and make the supermarket look healthier than it was.
In August 2014, Tesco said it expected profits for the first half of the year to be about £1.1bn.
However, weeks later, under the new chief executive Dave Lewis, it said its profits had been overstated by an estimated £250m.
The numbers had been flattered by early recognition of payments from suppliers who sell their goods in the supermarket’s stores, as well as delays in charging costs.
It was eventually discovered that income had been overstated by £284m.