Ben la Grange cooperates with authorities on investigations into Steinhoff

La Grange was suspended last August but remains on the Steinhoff payroll as a consultant.

FILE: Former Steinhoff CFO Ben la Grange with his senior counsel, John Dickerson, appear in Parliament on 29 August 2018. Picture: Gaye Davis/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Suspended former chief financial officer at Steinhoff Ben la Grange said on Wednesday he was helping authorities with investigations into the R100 billion plus accounting scandal at the South African retailer.

La Grange is one of eight individuals named in an investigation of what an independent report by auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said was a complex scheme in which intercompany deals were wrongly recorded as external income to prop up profits and hide costs in underperforming subsidiaries.

He said on Wednesday he was cooperating with all government agencies.

La Grange was suspended last August but remains on the Steinhoff payroll as a consultant.

Steinhoff was summoned to provide the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) with the full report it had received from audit firm PwC on the fraud and corruption that led to the company’s shares going into free-fall nearly a year and a half ago.

Steinhoff had, so far, released an 11-page summary of the 3,000-plus page report and did not name the former executives involved.

Appearing before Parliament’s Standing Committees on Finance and Public Accounts, along with two other committees on Tuesday, Steinhoff CEO Louis du Preez and board chairperson Heather Sonn were challenged on this decision and instructed to name names, which Du Preez then did.

Du Preez said the summons from the FSCA to produce the PwC report was received on Tuesday morning.

“Whilst we were sitting here the FSCA has issued a summons. So, I will take legal advice and we will deal with it. We’re here to cooperate,” he said.

Additional reporting by Gaye Davis.