South African Police Criticize Steinhoff for Report Filed

(Bloomberg) -- Steinhoff International Holdings NV submitted a report to South Africa’s police that contained no material information, didn’t implicate ex-Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste and was effectively “malicious compliance,” Alfred Khana, the police unit’s head of specialized commercial crimes said.

The owner of Mattress Firm in the U.S. and Conforama in France in January told South African lawmakers that it referred Jooste, the man who built the retailer into a global force, to the special police unit known as the Hawks. Four parliamentary committees held a second round of hearings in Cape Town on Wednesday to better understand the events which have lost shareholders more than $12 billion in value.

“The report said nothing about who they suspected or who was responsible,” Khana said at the hearings. “It was an empty report.”

The lawmakers “suspect that Steinhoff had rushed to open the case because it had to appear before the committees,” they said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

Steinhoff’s lawyer Robert Driman denied this and said the company wrote to Khana after it learned he was dissatisfied with the report, asking him to detail what he needed.

The Hawks are probing three Steinhoff matters, Khana said. Two of these were raised in Stellenbosch and one in Sandton, he said, without giving details of who laid the cases. They weren’t opened by Steinhoff’s board, he said.

The police unit is amending its investigation plan to take into consideration the roles and timelines of other regulatory agencies such as the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, the Financial Services Board, the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors and the Reserve Bank, Khana said.

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