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JJB Sports Ex-CEO Charged With Fraud, Money Laundering

April 4 (Bloomberg) -- Christopher Ronnie, the former chief executive officer of JJB Sports Plc, was charged with fraud and money laundering by the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office.

Ronnie, 50, who was CEO of the sportswear and equipment retailer from August 2007 until March 2009, was charged at a London criminal court today with failing to disclose interests in contracts entered into by the company, money laundering, and providing false information, the SFO said in a statement.

The agency also charged David Patrick Ball, 51, the joint beneficial owner of JJB supplier Fashion & Sport Ltd., with three counts of furnishing false information for his part in the alleged 1 million-pound ($1.6 million) fraud.

Ronnie “has fully cooperated with the Serious Fraud Office investigation and is surprised and disappointed at the decision,” said Anthony Barnfather, a lawyer for the former executive.

“He strenuously denies the charges, has always maintained his innocence and is confident his position will be vindicated in due course,” Barnfather, a partner at Pannone LLP, said.

Lawyers for Ball were not immediately available for comment.

The SFO began investigating Wigan, England-based JJB and Sports Direct International Plc in August 2009, when the Office of Fair Trading referred the matter to them. The agency closed its probe in October 2010 without bringing charges against the companies while stating it was continuing to investigate individuals. Other suspects are still under investigation in the case, the SFO said.

JJB cooperated fully with the SFO in its investigation, the company said in a statement today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lindsay Fortado in London at lfortado@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Scinta at cscinta@bloomberg.net

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