Race on to conclude probe into Steinhoff saga by year end
THE eagerly awaited report on what really went wrong regarding the Steinhoff accounting irregularities last December will be completed by the end of this year, according to PwC, the auditors probing the matter.
PwC yesterday said it intended to finalise a complex forensic investigation into the affairs of Steinhoff International by yearend.
This was expressed by a senior investigator at the firm in response to a parliamentary question. The Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) told the parliamentary hearing that the Steinhoff matter could take at least three years to conclude a public interest investigation as complex as the one it is conducting into Steinhoff.
IRBA’s representative said that an investigation outside of the public interest took 18 months. But one which was a matter of public interest could take longer.
Embattled former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste dodged a grilling as he skipped the hearing again and has now been given 10 days to make himself available before the parliament standing committee.
Steinhoff, which has more than 40 retail brands including Conforama and Poundland, is in a fight for survival after admitting “accounting irregularities” in December, wiping about 85% off its market value and triggering a liquidity crisis.
According to reports, accounting scandal at the embattled SA retailer Steinhoff may stretch back further than previously known.
Steinhoff’s former CEO abruptly resigned from the company in early December last year. He has not publicly spoken to the media since stepping down. In early February Steinhoff announced that it had reported Jooste to priority crime investigating unit the Hawks on suspicion of fraud.
Steinhoff acting chairperson Heather Sonn said that the matter was “now in the hands of the Hawks for further investigation and potential prosecution”.
Since Jooste’s resignation, almost R200bn in shareholder value has been lost, with Steinhoff shares losing more than 85% in value.
In its first quarter revenues for this year published last month, an unaudited trading update for the three months to endDecember showed that the group’s global revenues had fallen by 5% over the prior comparative period.
The Public Services Association said it was throwing its weight behind the Steinhoff board in the wake of its decision to bring criminal charges against Jooste.
In what appeared to be an ongoing drama around Steinhoff, it was reported last week that the troubled retailer planned to reward its directors for doing what it said was an “exceptionally demanding” job despite the company wiping out almost R174bn of shareholders money in an accounting scandal last year.
However, unions were against the move and demanded pensioners money be paid back if that was the case. Trade unions said it was good to hear that PwC will wrap up the whole probe before the end of this year.