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Former JJB Sports head and co-defendants sentenced to total of 7 years

15 December, 2014 | News Releases

Three individuals were today handed prison sentences following their convictions last month for fraud, furnishing false information and attempting to pervert the course of justice as a result of a Serious Fraud Office investigation into JJB Sports plc (JJB).

Christopher Ronnie, former Chief Executive of JJB, was sentenced to 4 years in prison for three offences of fraud totalling around £1 million, to run concurrently, and 1 year in prison for two offences of furnishing false information, also to run concurrently.

David Ball and David Barrington, beneficial owners of Fashion and Sport Ltd, a company that sold clothing brands and supplied stock to JJB, were each sentenced to 18 months in prison for two offences of attempting to pervert the course of justice, to run concurrently.

The SFO’s investigation into JJB centred on Mr Ronnie’s failure to declare his interest in contracts entered into by JJB Sports with Fashion and Sport Ltd as well as attempts by Mr Ball and Mr Barrington to destroy evidence and mislead the SFO.

Handing down the sentence, HHJ Loraine-Smith said of Mr Ronnie’s crime:

“It was very greedy…. this was a flagrant and disgraceful breach of your duty as a CEO of a plc. It was dishonest in the extreme.”

Of Mr Ball and Mr Barrington, the judge said:

“Both of you did whatever you could to frustrate the SFO investigation… The concealment [of incriminating evidence] took place over a period of years and resulted in these proceedings. Perverting the course of justice took place before and after the case came to trial.”

Commenting on the sentencing, Director of the SFO David Green CB QC said:

“These defendants contrived to hide information regarding their dealings from both JJB’s board of directors and the SFO once its investigation began. That the investigation resulted in these convictions, despite such attempts to derail it, reflects the SFO’s determination in tackling complex and elaborate fraud.”

Mr Ronnie was disqualified from being a director of a company for 8 years.

A confiscation timetable has been set for Mr Ronnie and the Judge ordered Mr Ball and Mr Barrington to pay £40k costs each within 12 months.

Notes for editors:

1. Further information on the three defendants’ convictions can be found here.

Christopher Ronnie’s sentence:

Count 1 – 4 years

Count 2 – 4 years concurrent

Count 3 – 4 years concurrent

Count 6 – 1 year concurrent

Count 7 – 1 year concurrent

David Ball:

Count 9 – 18 months

Count 10 – 18 months concurrent

David Barrington:

Count 9 – 18 months

Count 10 – 18 months concurrent

2. The case was referred to the SFO by the Office of Fair Trading, now the Competition and Markets Authority, and accepted for investigation in August 2009.

3. The SFO was assisted in its investigation by City of London Police, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Competition and Markets Authority.

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