Steinhoff: No one will be spared in forensic investigation

Former CEO Markus Jooste was on Tuesday reported to the Hawks for investigation into alleged corrupt activities.

FILE: Steinhoff's offices in Stellenbosch. Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - Embattled Steinhoff has told Parliament that no one will be spared in the forensic investigation the company has launched into alleged fraud and corruption.

Steinhoff’s new board and management have been meeting with three parliamentary committees, along with the JSE, the Financial Services Board, National Treasury and the Reserve Bank.

Steinhoff’s commercial director Louis du Preez says the company has given PriceWaterhouseCoopers an open mandate for its forensic investigation into alleged wrongdoing.

He says: “There job is also to look at the role that the directors and management played, including the people in this room.”

But du Preez could not say how long the probe will take.

“The burning question on everyone’s lips, not just in this forum but in our interactions with local and international lenders, is when will the PwC investigation be completed? As I sit here, I cannot give that indication, we hope to be in a better position to come back to the public and the market after we’ve met with PwC this week.”

The JSE’s Nicky Newton-King earlier told MPs that investigations into Steinhoff are likely to take a long time.

This comes as former CEO Markus Jooste was on Tuesday reported to the Hawks for investigation into alleged corrupt activities.

The global retailer’s share price collapsed last month, causing widespread losses for pension funds and other investors.

The head of Steinhoff’s audit committee has told Parliament how management waited in vain for Jooste to come and answer their urgent questions about alleged wrongdoing at the company.

Jooste submitted his resignation to Wiese the same evening, after which the global retailer’s share price went into a tailspin.

Audit committee chairman Steve Booysen says he only got confirmation of the so-called irregularities on the morning of 5 December, after Jooste had already been summoned to come and explain transactions, accounting entries and especially the cash flow of certain transactions.

“Markus Jooste then did send an SMS to me as audit chairman and the content of that SMS really led me to a conclusion that is confirmation of the accounting irregularities. We waited for him that whole day to make his presentations for which he didn’t pitch up and then offered his resignation to the chairman later that evening at 7:45pm.”

Booysen says while he was first alerted to trouble in September, things took time.

“It is long because the collusion is not only inside the company but also outside of the company – and that makes it complex because you need to go through legal processes to obtain information in these [tax] havens and Switzerland, where there’s a lot of protection for external parties.”