Food retailer Choppies, whose 2018 results were delayed by more than a year, said on Tuesday its 2019 financial audit will be delayed.

The company has blamed the lockdown in Botswana for the delay.

The discount trader's share trading has been suspended on both the JSE and Botswana Stock Exchange for over a year after it had difficulties releasing its audit results in 2018 and a forensic investigation uncovered accounting irregularities.

Its 2018 financial results were delayed by a more than a year  when its new auditors PwC, who had replaced KPMG, refused to sign them off.  Its 2017 results were also restated, moving from a profit to a loss.

PwC also raised concerns the retailer's Zimbabwe operations were being used for money laundering.

The African retailer was also dropped late in 2019 by PwC due to its risk profile.

Choppies then struggled to find audit firms until earlier in 2020 when it announced it had appointed Mazars to audit the financial year ended June 2019.

Choppies said on Tuesday the lockdown in Botswana has delayed Mazars' completion of the end-June 2019 annual financial statements and the auditor's report. It said the auditors report will be released on or around July 30, if the lockdown is lifted at the end of the month.

If the lockdown is extended again it will further delay the release of its financial results, Choppies said in a statement,  

In 2019, the retailer announced an investigation by EY forensic team, which uncovered accounting irregularities in how it recorded sales and inventory stocks in SA and Zimbabwe shops.  The board then suspended CEO Ramachandran Ottapathu who was later reinstated.

Late in 2019, leaving behind dreams of taking on Shoprite, it also sold its 88 loss-making supermarkets in SA  to Kind Investments for R1.

Before that it had more than 200 stores in SA, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Choppies opened its first store in SA in Zeerust, in the North West.

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