Ann Crotty Writer-at-large

Deloitte’s role in the collapse of Steinhoff has been moved to centre stage following the decision by Dutch Investors Association VEB to hold the audit firm liable for damages incurred by Steinhoff shareholders. VEB, which served summons on Steinhoff in early February 2018, contends shareholders were encouraged to invest in the group after Deloitte had provided unqualified auditor’s reports for the 2015 and 2016 financial statements. Following disclosure of widespread accounting irregularities in early December 2017, Steinhoff said it was uncertain about €6bn of non-South African assets. The group subsequently said the 2015 and 2016 accounts had to be restated. "Auditors have a public duty in supporting confidence in the financial markets. Investors must be able to rely on an unqualified auditor’s report for the basis on which they make investment decisions," said Armand Kersten, head of relations at VEB. Kersten said his organisation had obtained settlements from auditors in many c...

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