February 19 letters: Departing bosses can indeed say that ‘every little helps’

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From: Barrie Frost, Watson’s Lane, Reighton, Filey.

JUST how many lottery-sized pay-offs have to be made to departing bosses of huge companies before sanity and moral values are restored and normal working people are made to feel valuable once more?

Tesco supermarket was embroiled last year in an accounting scandal which overstated its profits. The profits were overstated by a whopping £10m; oh,no, I’ve got that wrong, it was, I think more like £50m; oh, sorry, wrong again, profits were overstated by £263m, or put another way - £5m per week for a full year. Phew! That’s what can be called deception.

Potential investors in companies, particularly those who do not profess to be financial experts, will have been persuaded to invest their monies based on Tesco’s publicised performance only to find this had been incorrectly stated by its executives. In total, I wonder if the sum of their losses due to this deception will mean Tesco will be legally bound to reimburse such losses. Ousted bosses, chief executive Philip Clarke and ex-finance director Laurie McIlwee, will walk away with combined cash and share awards of almost £13m – and this at a time when thousands of Tesco staff face losing their jobs under new boss Dave Lewis’s turnaround plans. It should be remembered that these totally obscene awards can only be made from an increase in the price of Tesco goods which customers have had to pay. I am sure customers were totally unaware they were having to fund such obscene payments.

The cash part of the severance payments to the two executives was over £2m, and were previously suspended, but this has been reversed to avoid a costly legal battle and payment has now been agreed which, as we all have come to expect, Tesco says it was contractually committed to do. Just who agrees contracts which reward deception on such a grand scale and how can ‘the law’ possibly defend such behaviour? I wonder if ‘lesser employees’ had caused this financial scandal what sized bounties they would have received? Tesco is now being investigated into how it treats its suppliers, with long delays in paying suppliers a frequent occurrence. Have the two bosses, like Tesco’s suppliers, had to wait similar lengthy periods to receive their severance payments of £2m?

However, there is one part of Tesco’s operations which seems to have been adhered to. When Mr Clarke and Mr McIlwee bank accounts are credited with these huge sums they will be able to claim that the slogan “every little helps” is indeed correct.