PwC probe into Steinhoff found pattern of overstatement of income, asset values

The embattled global retailer’s annual general meeting is underway in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, with proceedings being live-streamed to the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

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

CAPE TOWN - PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) forensic probe into Steinhoff has uncovered a pattern of transactions stretching over a number of years that led to the material overstatement of income and asset values of the group, investors have been told.

The embattled global retailer’s annual general meeting is underway in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, with proceedings being live-streamed to the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Shareholders and their representatives have been asking tough questions, many of them coming from lawyers acting for VEB, the Dutch investors’ association that in February launched a class action against Steinhoff.

Steinhoff’s commercial director Louis du Preez says the final report by audit firm PwC will be made public, except for parts that may impact on litigation or possible criminal prosecutions.

Steinhoff hopes to publish its audited financial results for 2017 put on hold due to the probe by year end.

The group is battling to recover from the liquidity crisis that ensued after CEO Markus Jooste resigned in December amid an accounting scandal that triggered the collapse of its share price.

An Eskom pension fund representative was among those who questioned the independence of the directors nominated for Steinhoff’s management and supervisory boards on the basis that some have been with the company for longer than the nine years good corporate governance rules dictate should be the cut-off.