The Serious Fraud Office has charged three former Tesco executives as part of a fraud investigation into the alleged overstatement of profits at the supermarket chain.

Carl Rogberg, 49, Christopher Bush, 50, and John Scouler, 48, have been charged with one count of fraud by abuse of position, and one count of false accounting, the SFO said today.

Rogberg was finance director for the chain’s UK stores, Bush was the ex-managing director and Scouler the commercial director of food.

The alleged activity, in which the supermarket’s profits were alleged to have been overstated by £263m, occurred between February and September 2014.

A spokesperson for Tesco said: ‘Tesco continues to cooperate with the SFO’s investigation. The last two years have seen an extensive programme of change at Tesco, but given this is an ongoing legal matter, we are unable to provide any further comment at this time.’

The former executives have been ordered to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 22 September.

Barry Vitou, partner and head of global corporate crime at international firm Pinsent Masons, said: ‘While the allegations have yet to be tested in court, the charges underscore that when the SFO says it means business, it means business. 

‘With a government focus on corporate culture, the SFO’s investigations into a roster of some of the most well known corporate names in the UK are firmly in the sweet spot of the present prime minister.  UK PLC should take note.’

‘Although the  has been a strong year for the SFO and this acts as further confirmation that the agency is here to stay.’