Markus Jooste. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Markus Jooste. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Steinhoff, which remains “in a precarious position”, will tell parliament on Tuesday that those responsible for SA’s biggest corporate scandal “will be held accountable”.

On Friday last week, the long-awaited release of the overview of PwC’s forensic investigation into the beleaguered retail group was published. 

While generally light on information, the overview revealed that an estimated €6.5bn worth of fictitious transactions between 2009 and 2017 had inflated the group’s profits and asset value.

That suggests that Steinhoff was actually not profitable.

“The €6.5bn is higher than the profits declared by the company over that period,” Vestact said in a note to clients this week.

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Steinhoff said in a presentation for its briefing to parliament on Tuesday that it was co-operating with a number of regulators in SA, including the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, the Hawks, the National Director of Public Prosecutions, and two branches of the Asset Forfeiture Unit.

Heather Sonn, chair of Steinhoff’s supervisory board, and CEO Louis du Preez are briefing parliament.

Parliament said in a statement that “the main aim of the meeting is to establish from the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority and the relevant regulatory bodies what progress these institutions have made in acting against those accused of wrongdoing since the committees’ last meeting in September last year”.

Yunus Carrim, the chair of the standing committee on finance, said: “This is after all the biggest corporate scandal the country has ever faced and we want to see decisive action. Not words of action, but action!”

The overview of the PwC report says a “small group” of former executives and other non-Steinhoff executives, led by a senior management executive, “structured and implemented various transactions over a number of years which had the result of substantially inflating the profit and asset values of the Steinhoff group over an extended period”.

The retailer did not name former CEO Markus Jooste.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday morning that an investigation into an alleged fraudulent transaction by Steinhoff was at an advanced stage, citing a presentation by the Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation unit.

The emergence of new details into the probe against the global retailer has resulted in the scope of the investigation being expanded, the presentation showed. The composition of the investigating team has been enhanced and will also look into the PwC report, the crime unit said.

The Hawks are also seeking mutual legal assistance and have engaged several regulators, such as the Reserve Bank and Financial Sector Conduct Authority.

Meanwhile, shares in the JSE, which is also presenting to parliament, were down 5.8% at R147.11 in late morning trade. Steinhoff’s shares were down 3.6% at R1.90.

With Bloomberg

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za