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JJB’s Chris Ronnie faces new SFO probe

Chris Ronnie, the former JJB chief executive who was jailed before Christmas for pocketing nearly £1m from suppliers, is facing a new investigation from the Serious Fraud Office.

The new action will give the SFO the ability to forensically examine Ronnie’s career over many years.

The government department has requested that Ronnie’s lawyers hand over a list of all of his assets and details of his financial transactions by January 16, according to The Mail on Sunday.

Acting under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the investigators could then call for a “criminal lifestyle” order against Ronnie as he has been convicted of three separate frauds. This would let the official fraud investigators examine his activities six years from the date he was charged. This period would include his time at JJB Sports and his final months at his former employer, Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct.

The former JJB boss was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court earlier this month to four years in prison and banned from being a company director for eight years. Ronnie was convicted in November of making a false statement of his assets. He was found to have accepted a six-figure sum in undisclosed payments linked to business transactions while in charge of the sports chain between August 2007 and March 2009. JJB went into administration in 2012.

A single payment to Seacroft, a company associated with Ronnie, and a further two in his personal accounts were received from sports goods suppliers Performance Brands and Fashion and Sport. The payments, received over a nine-month period, ranged from £197,000 to £650,000.

Ronnie also amassed debts of £11m with Kaupthing Singer Friedlander after the Icelandic bank funded his acquisition of a 30% stake in JJB.

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