Ann Crotty Writer-at-large

It wasn’t quite a guffaw, more like a few stifled chuckles. One or other of the directors at the AGM of Steinhoff Africa Retail (Star) had suggested shareholders could relax because the auditors had interrogated the issue at hand "and were satisfied". The suggestion didn’t quite capture the mood of the room. Many of those in attendance were representatives of institutions that had poured heaps of money into Steinhoff. They had pitched up to the AGM not so much to keep tabs on Star but in the hope of getting some insight into Steinhoff. No sentence with "auditors" in it was going to give them any comfort. Particularly as the auditors providing the comfort in this case were none other than Deloitte, the same firm that had been in the vicinity of the "accounting irregularities" referred to by Steinhoff directors in December. It wasn’t always so. There was a time when a director could silence any criticism with the words "our auditors have approved the matter". Now, thanks to these same...

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