Following an investigation which began in autumn 2005, the SFO announced on Thursday that it has charged the water company with three offences relating to leakage data supplied between 2000 and 2002.

However, investigators confirmed that no individual at the company will be charged with any offences.

Severn Trent has already apologised to customers for the errors. The company also credited customers’ accounts and reduced future tariffs.

Tony Wray, chief executive of Severn Trent Plc, said: “The new board has cooperated fully with the SFO during the investigation.

“We will now study carefully the details of the charges which relate to the responsibilities of a previous regime.

“Until that process is completed and we have taken legal advice, we cannot comment further on our response to the charges.

“What I can say is that this new board and management team has taken, and will continue to take, all actions we think appropriate to ensure the maintenance of both high ethical and professional standards and resilient and effective controls throughout our organisation.”

Company bosses acknowledged that Ofwat may expect further amends to be made to customers after the SFO investigation is concluded.

The alleged reporting irregularities first came to light in 2004 when a Severn Trent employee tipped off Ofwat.

The watchdog began an investigation into the leakage data supplied by the company and informed the SFO, which began its own criminal investigation in autumn 2005.

A date for the first court hearing has yet to be fixed.

Kate Martin

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