Steinhoff Former Chairman Wiese Says Probe Report Supports Claim

(Bloomberg) -- Former Steinhoff International Holdings NV Chairman Christo Wiese says the retailer’s overview of a forensic probe into the company’s accounting irregularities supports his 59 billion rand ($4.1 billion) claim against the company.

A report by PwC that was published last week found that a small group of former managers and non-Steinhoff executives structured deals that substantially inflated profits and asset values, according to a summary the company released late Friday. Wiese, a South African billionaire and once Steinhoff’s biggest shareholder, lodged his claim in April, looking to claw back investments he made before the share price crashed when the accounting scandal emerged in late 2017.

“It’s clear from the report that this wasn’t just done over the last few years, but goes back a decade or more,” Wiese said by phone on Monday. “Now it’s to follow the trail and see: If money was stolen, where did it go?”

Lawsuits against Steinhoff have piled up across three countries. Wiese’s said that while he believed the company was not in a position to pay, he was seeking a settlement that would benefit all stakeholders. He said he had no desire to put Steinhoff in liquidation. Wiese became Steinhoff’s largest shareholder when he sold Pepkor, Africa’s biggest clothing chain, to the company in 2015.

A Steinhoff representative declined to comment.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.