On 28 September 2017, Sasha Wass QC, a lawyer for the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), stood up to address the jury at Southwark Crown court in London:
“This case concerns what is often referred to as white collar crime and it concerns fraud and false accounting...
…On 22 September 2014…Tesco Plc made a public announcement to the stock market and the announcement said that Tesco’s had previously overstated its expected profits by approximately £250million.
…[The defendants] encouraged the manipulation of profits and indeed pressurised others working under their control to misconduct themselves.”
Tesco’s fall from grace could hardly have been less elegant. For much of its history, the multinational supermarket chain was a darling of the stock market and a mainstay of most UK portfolios. It became known as a “ten percenter”, referring to its remarkably consistent ability to deliver 10% earnings growth per annum with a share price that followed. CEO Sir Terry Leahy, who stepped down in 2011, was even knighted for his achievements.1