Progressive Professionals Forum wants SIU probe into Steinhoff

Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste. FILE PHOTO: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste. FILE PHOTO: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

An investigative report found that a small group of former executives inflated the profit and asset values of the company for years.

The Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF) has called for South Africa’s Special Investigating Unit to probe troubled global retailer Steinhoff International in light of new revelations of corruption.

An investigative report by audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that a small group of former Steinhoff executives inflated the profit and asset values of the company for years by over R100 billion.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known as the Hawks, has reportedly said it was anxiously waiting to be granted access to the full PwC forensic report into wrongdoing at Steinhoff.

The PPF said the full report, with more than 3,000 pages and 4,000 document annexures, was nothing short of wasted paper not worth the over R200 billion lost by investors, including government pensioners, after an accounting scandal at Steinhoff led to a run on its shares.

“The report’s attempt to water down hard executive transgressions, blatant criminality into mere simplistic non-conformance to disclosure requirements and accounting standards should absolutely be frowned upon from a reputable auditing firm like PwC,” it said in a statement.

“We believe that the continued assurances breaches by auditing firms in South Africa necessitates a closer look at the conduct of the auditing industry as a whole in our country as it’s beginning to give strong indications of collusion.”

The PPF called for strong action to be taken against former Steinhoff executives Markus Jooste, Stephan Grobler, Davide Romano, Ben la Gange, Dirk Schreiber, Siegmar Schmidt, Alan Evans, and Jean-Noel Pasquier, among many others.

“PPF calls upon President Cyril Ramaphosa to instruct the Special Investigating Unit to investigate the Steinhoff alleged fraud, collusion, theft, money laundering and insider trading like he has done with the procurement of vehicles at the city of Johannesburg,” it said.

“This call is made because of our concern that there seems to be more and more revelations of corporate misconduct by South African corporations at times in collusion with international partners thereby undermining (the country).”

– African News Agency

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