How is it possible that so many accountants, fund managers and financial journalists missed such an enormous calamity as Steinhoff? It’s a good question and a good time for all of us to engage in some reflection and humbling introspection. There is some mitigation of sentence, however, and I’m very proud and not just somewhat relieved that it appeared mainly in these pages. But I have to say, the mitigation by no means exorcises the fault, and please, I am not now and nor would I ever seek to excuse or deflect responsibility. For the record, it must be said that for years, there has been a rumbling undercurrent about the integrity of Steinhoff’s accounts. Auditor Deloitte gets huge kudos for finally blowing the whistle, and some brickbats for not doing it earlier. Investment house UBS gets an honourable mention because its one-time retail analyst Darren Cohn terminated coverage out of concern about its financial structure, while Futuregrowth’s Andrew Canter acutely managed to avoid ...

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