Monday , June 14 2021

The CEO of Steinhoff raises the two most frequently asked questions

Steinhoff CEO Louis du Priz told investors there were two things he was pressed most after the retailer collapsed: Can we see the full forensic report and when former CEO Marcus Joust will be arrested?

The first relates to an in-depth investigation by PwC of an accounting scandal that erupted at the end of 2017.

The results of the probe were delayed several times as even the sharpest financial minds struggled with the complexity of the task. Finally, Steinhoff only published a summary of 10 pages – though more details were included in the subsequent audited results.

The second question concerns the fate of Jooste, the executive identified by Steinhoff as most responsible for layers of third-party transactions and inflated numbers behind alleged financial misconduct.

While the South African company is seeking more than R850 million ($ 56 million) from a 58-year-old youth in court, he has not been charged and denied wrongdoing.

So, how does the CEO respond?

PwC's full report must be kept secret about Steinhoff's own lawsuits, Du Priz told a presentation in Cape Town on Tuesday. Although the financial investigation has largely been completed, further studies are continuing on the role of third parties, he said.

As for Jooste, it is not the business of the company to initiate criminal proceedings. Steinhoff cooperates with the authorities and contacts the South African regulators on an almost daily basis, but his task only goes so far, Du Price said.

The CEO then handed over to Alex Watson, a member of the board of supervisors and a former professor of accounting at the University of Cape Town. Steinhoff's accounts were "the most complex financial statements you could ever imagine," she said.

"It was the longest audit opinion so far," the professor said.

"Students will study this for years."

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