Ann Crotty Writer-at-large

Steinhoff has submitted its sixth and final report to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) dealing with details of the individuals involved in the falsifying of the group’s accounting records.

At the end of January, the CIPC issued a compliance notice giving the Steinhoff directors six months to identify the individuals involved in the falsifying of accounting records and to institute criminal action against them "irrespective of geographic location". If the company does not comply with a compliance notice, it faces a fine of 10% of its annual turnover.

The CIPC, which is responsible for monitoring adherence to the Companies Act, did not respond to requests for information, but it is understood that it is interrogating the information to determine if it has been given the requested details.

The notice also requires Steinhoff to institute civil action in terms of sections 77 and 162 of the Companies Act against those involved in the falsification of the accounting records.

Section 77 relates to the liability of directors and prescribed officers, while section 162 relates to an application to declare a director delinquent or under probation.

Parliamentary hearing

The CIPC engagement is part of what is expected to be a busy month for the Steinhoff supervisory board as it prepares for a third parliamentary hearing, as well as its first court appearance in Holland relating to the class action brought by Dutch shareholder association VEB.

Former group chief financial officer Ben la Grange is expected to attend the meeting in Parliament later in August, which provides an opportunity for the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (Irba), the JSE and the Hawks to present an update on their investigations.

The FSCA is investigating two possible false or misleading reporting cases against Steinhoff relating to publications issued during 2015, 2016 and 2017. It is also investigating three cases of possible insider trading in the group’s shares between August 2017 and December 2017.

Irba, which is awaiting the findings of the PwC report on Steinhoff, told Parliament at the end of March that it could take up to three years to conclude its investigation into Steinhoff.

The JSE, which is also awaiting finalisation of the PwC report, told Parliament in March that it was looking at possible changes to its listings requirements relating to board diversity and the authority of shareholders in appointing board members and the role of the boards.