Raymond Doherty 1 Feb 2018 03:53pm

Steinhoff shareholders to sue auditors Deloitte

Shareholders at scandal-hit Steinhoff International have launched legal proceedings against the business and its auditors Deloitte
Caption: Deloitte audits the Poundland owners
Law firm BarentsKrans will act on behalf of the shareholders with Big Four firm Deloitte as co-defendants. The claim will be conducted in the Netherlands and funded by Claims Funding Europe.

Steinhoff International admitted last month that its accounting irregularities could be worse than feared.

The group, which owns Poundland as well as 6,500 retail outlets and 40 brands worldwide including Bensons for Beds and Harveys in the UK, revealed that its 2015 and 2016 financial statements would need to be restated and “could not be relied on”.

In December, South Africa’s audit regulator announced a probe into Deloitte over the scandal. The investigation of the Big Four firm, which has audited Steinhoff for almost 20 years, concerned the financial years ended 2014 – 2016, the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) said.

Earlier the same month, Steinhoff appointed PwC to conduct an independent review into the accounting irregularities. The company said new information had emerged which required investigation, adding that it had been unable to publish its financial results as a result.

Its chief executive Markus Jooste then stood down with immediate effect. Shares in the company have since plunged over 80%.

Jan-Willem de Jong, lawyer at BarentsKrans, said regarding the legal action, “The market was completely caught by surprise, which is underlined by the steep decline of Steinhoff’s share price. It is clear that investors have been harmed in a significant way and now it’s time for them to seek compensation.”

According to reports yesterday Steinhoff had reported its former boss, Jooste, to South African police.