SFO charges former chairman of Wickes

THE SERIOUS Fraud Office yesterday said it had charged the former chairman and chief executive of Wickes, the DIY chain, with fraudulent trading and making false statements.

Henry Sweetbaum, a US citizen living in London with his family, has been remanded on bail to appear before Bow Street magistrates on 30 July.

Mr Sweetbaum resigned in 1996 after a scandal at the firm over a pounds 53m "black hole" in its accounts. The company booked suppliers' rebates against future sales in current-year profits, leading it to overstate profits for two years running.

Four other former directors - Trefor Wilmot Llewellyn, Geoffrey Battersby, Terrence Carson and Leslie Rosenthal - were charged on 26 May when Mr Sweetbaum was in the US on a business trip. Mr Llewellyn, the former group finance director, had resigned in August 1995 before the affair came to light.

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