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UK's Serious Fraud Office starts criminal investigation in Tesco accounting procedures

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LONDON — Britain's Serious Fraud Office has launched a criminal investigation into accounting procedures at Tesco, in a case in which the retailer acknowledged it had overstated its projected profits.

Tesco had already launched an internal investigation after discovering its first-half earnings estimate had been inflated by about 263 million pounds ($423 million) due to alleged accounting errors at the company, the second largest retailer after Walmart. Eight executives have been suspended while the inquiry takes place.

The SFO's inquiry underscores the seriousness of the matter, though it remains unclear as to whether the accounting issues were mistakes or a deliberate effort to massage the results amid troubles in facing down increasing competition.

Just moments after the SFO probe was announced Wednesday, the Financial Conduct Authority ended its inquiry.

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