Was the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) right to give Steinhoff a whopping 96% reduction on its R1.5bn fine last week? In a free-market economy, where companies are expected to bear the consequences of their decisions (like, say, a R155bn "overstatement" of profits over many years), it would be philosophically tempting to say that Steinhoff shouldn’t get any get-out-of-jail-free card.

And the last thing you want is to give other companies fined for "misleading financial statements" (such as Harmony Gold, which was recently slapped with a R30m penalty) a gap to argue that the FSCA has set a precedent of leniency...

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