Tesco CEO Dave Lewis today bought £200,000 of shares in the retail giant, a day after attacking critics over his lack of investment in the company.

Lewis said yesterday that he and chief financial officer Alan Stewart had held back from buying shares in Tesco because of the major changes going on in the business which could have meant they were guilty of insider trading.

Lewis also said a board decision had been made for the senior executives not to invest during the ongoing regulatory situation facing Tesco, including the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into its trading practices.

Earlier this week Sky News claimed Tesco has been in secret talks with the SFO about a deal to settle a criminal probe into the accounting scandal and the move by Lewis today will add fuel to the fire that he believes Tesco will soon be moving on from the affair.

Lewis today bought 99,995 ordinary shares at 200.1p each – adding up to a total of £200k.

Stewart and chairman John Allan have each bought more than £100k worth of shares – Stewart purchasing 50,000 shares for 202.4p worth £101k and Allan 50,891 shares for 196.5p worth 100k.

Independent director Richard Cousins bought 17,357 shares for 199p worth £35k and non-exec director Mikael Olsson has bought 5,000 shares for 200.1p each worth 10k.

In total, the directors have bought 223,198 shares worth a combined £446k.

After announcing its first half results yesterday Tesco shares are currently trading at their highest point since mid-August having risen 12% so far this week to 202p.

“There have been some very unfair things written about this issue in terms of share ownership,” said Lewis.

“Alan and I presented to the board a business review for the whole group. At that point we and the board were in possession of quite considerable inside information about what may and may not happen in the Tesco group. Add to that the fact that we had some regulatory reviews that we had to deal with confidentiality and we as a board took the decision that whilst these things were ongoing we should exclude ourselves form being able to trade Tesco shares.”

Lewis refused to comment about the alleged SFO talks.