The teetering Steinhoff can't tell shareholders much – but promises to do 'whatever it takes' to stay afloat

Business Insider SA
  • Forensic investigators have secured data as Steinhoff investigates its own books.
  • The interim chairperson promises to do "whatever it takes" to keep the group afloat.
  • But other than Markus Jooste, it isn't naming names – or providing any details.

Forensic investigators have secured "raw data from computers" and cellphones, retail company Steinhoff said on Wednesday, and that will help identify "the individuals involved who are to be held accountable."

But Steinhoff would not say who was in the firing line, or even when the internal investigation into its "accounting irregularities" would be finished. Instead it just asked shareholders to hang on.

"We all want to see Steinhoff secure in its future and I am determined to do whatever it takes to make that happen," acting chairperson Heather Sonn wrote in a four-page letter to shareholders.

Sonn also assured investors that Steinhoff is "working hard to uncover the truth" – but blamed "legal and other constraints" for not being able to provide any details whatsoever.

See also: The '#SteinhoffLeaks' emails appear to show Markus Jooste 'extensively engineered' the books as far back as 2014

At the end of January the company belatedly told Parliament it had reported its former CEO Markus Jooste to the police, apparently after his resignation.

It has not publicly identified any other person as being involved in what it continues to describe only as accounting irregularities.

At least four South African organisations are investigating Steinhoff: the Hawks, the Financial Services Board, the JSE, and the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.

"In due course, when the financial restatement and forensic processes allow, we will provide comprehensive information," said Sonn.

Instead the company published a limited set of unaudited numbers for the last three months of 2017, which includes the critical holiday season.

Those showed a 5% decline in retail revenue.

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