Ann Crotty Writer-at-large

Steinhoff International repurchased 40.4-million shares from its employee share-participation scheme in a transaction valued at about R2.3bn just weeks before the December 2017 announcement about "accounting irregularities" wiped out most of the value of the shares. The purchase of shares from a special purpose vehicle Steinhoff Sikhulasonke Investments, which was set up as an employee/black economic empowerment (BEE) initiative in 2008, was part of a 78.4-million share repurchase transaction undertaken by Steinhoff around October 24 2017. It cost about R4.7bn. The substantial cash outlay took place just weeks after Steinhoff’s audit committee was alerted to potential problems by Deloitte. At a parliamentary hearing at the end of January 2018 audit committee chairman Steve Booysen said that in September the auditors raised questions with management regarding some entries in the group’s draft accounts. On September 25 2017, the auditors addressed a letter to the audit committee chair...

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