Stein­hoff trio ‘added to probe’

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Agency Staff

Stein­hoff In­ter­na­tional Hold­ings has pro­vided the Hawks with in­for­ma­tion about a set of trans­ac­tions in­volv­ing three more for­mer ex­ec­u­tives who may have con­trib­uted to its ac­count­ing cri­sis, two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said.

Stein­hoff In­ter­na­tional Hold­ings has pro­vided the Hawks with in­for­ma­tion about a set of trans­ac­tions in­volv­ing three more for­mer ex­ec­u­tives who may have con­trib­uted to its ac­count­ing cri­sis, two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said.

The owner of Con­forama in France and Pound­land in the UK has al­ready re­ferred for­mer CEO Markus Jooste for his role in the scan­dal, which has wiped 96% off the mar­ket value. Now Dirk Schreiber, a Ger­man na­tional who was head of fi­nance in Europe, can be added to the list, said the peo­ple, ask­ing not to be named be­cause the in­for­ma­tion is pri­vate.

For­mer CFO Ben la Grange and for­mer com­pany sec­re­tary Ste­han Grob­ler com­plete the quar­tet, they said.

De­tails of the four for­mer ex­ec­u­tives’ al­leged in­volve­ment in events lead­ing up to a fail­ure to re­port au­dited re­sults for 2017 have emerged dur­ing an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion by PwC, the peo­ple said.

Three more as-yet-uniden­ti­fied in­di­vid­u­als may also be re­ported, said one of the peo­ple.

PwC’s foren­sic re­port is due to be com­pleted by the end of 2018. Once the find­ings have been pub­lished, for­mal charges may pro­ceed against any­one im­pli­cated in wrong­do­ing, a Hawks spokesper­son said.

Schreiber did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment. Grob­ler de­clined to com­ment on his re­fer­ral, cit­ing con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ments. La Grange said he has not been in­formed that Stein­hoff has given his name to the Hawks and so can­not com­ment. Nei­ther Jooste nor his lawyer re­sponded to a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment.

Stein­hoff said while it had handed a re­port to the Hawks in Au­gust re­quest­ing that the po­lice in­ves­ti­gate a set of trans­ac­tions, no com­plaint was made against any in­di­vid­ual.

“Any spec­u­la­tion [about] the names and the num­ber of names in­cluded in the re­port is just that,” a Stein­hoff spokesper­son said in re­sponse to ques­tions.

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