Ex-boss of UK retailer JJB Sports jailed for fraud

Former CEO of failed chain gets four-year sentence over £1m fraud

The former chief executive of failed retailer JJB Sports, once a British household name, was sentenced to four years in prison on Monday for a £1 million fraud.

Christopher Ronnie's sentence was for three offences of fraud, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said on Monday.

Ronnie was also sentenced to one year in prison for two offences of furnishing false information, but that sentence will run concurrently with the fraud sentence.

JJB Sports was founded by former professional footballer Dave Whelan in the 1970s and became one of Britain's largest sportswear retailers.


But it went into administration in 2012 with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs following mounting losses and debts.

The SFO said David Ball and David Barrington, beneficial owners of Fashion and Sport Ltd, a supplier to JJB, were also each sentenced to 18 months in prison for two offences of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The trio were convicted last month as a result of an SFO investigation into JJB.

The five-year investigation centred on Ronnie’s failure to declare three cash payments made from the JJB suppliers in 2007 and 2008 as well as attempts to destroy evidence and mislead the SFO.

“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,” said Judge Nickolas Loraine-Smith, when sentencing Ronnie.

The Serious Fraud Office said the trio hid information regarding their dealings from both JJB’s board of directors and the SFO.

The SFO is bringing a separate case against JJB's former chairman David Jones and his son Stuart, who was head of marketing.

That case centres on alleged forgery and misleading statements made to the market in 2009. An April trial was abandoned due to David Jones’s ill health. A new trial date has been set for February.