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Malan said it was “likely” that major corruption was involved, but would reserve judgment on alleged corruption, saying authorities had to do the work to prove it.

Malan said the e-mail Jooste report wrote to partners the day he resigned, saying he had “made mistakes” and had to face them “like a man”, suggested corruption.

“These words are seen as admission of guilt by many.”

The Steinhoff fall was partly brought on by corporate greed, arrogance and entitlement, delegates at the Certified Fraud Examiner African Conference in Sandton heard on Tuesday. Professor Daniel Malan from the Centre for Corporate Governance at the University of Stellenbosch said the board of directors running the retailer were described as “a club of friendship and trust”. “There is nothing wrong with friendship and trust or clubs, but it is not the way you want to describe a board of directors of a multinational organisation.” Malan was trying to explain what led to the Steinhoff collapse, which he said may be the “biggest corporate fraud in South African history”. Steinhoff, which has more than 40 global brands, collapsed with the share price losing 95% of its value in 10 months and R200bn going up in smoke. The issue was revealed in December when the company could not release its annual financial statements since auditors Deloitte had uncovered accounting irregularities. CEO Mar...

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