1 February 2018

South Africa: Steinhoff to Keep Parliament Abreast of Developments

Photo: Steinhoff
Steinhoff logo

Retail holding company Steinhoff has assured Parliament that it will fully cooperate with regulators regarding progress into investigations of accounting irregularities.

"Steinhoff assured the Committees that it will fully cooperate with the regulators and Parliament and provide more information to Parliament, regarding the progress in their PriceWaterCoopers internal investigations," said Parliament in a statement on Wednesday.

This as the Standing Committee on Finance, Standing Committee on Public Accounts and Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration held a joint briefing on the Steinhoff crisis.

The Committees said the progress reports, as well as the role of the regulators and other bodies will be taken into account in shaping the Committees' joint and respective programmes.

They will also work closely with the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry and other committees.

Last year, saw the revelations of accounting irregularities at Steinhoff which led to the resignation of its Chief Executive Officer, Markus Jooste.

On Wednesday, the Committees welcomed Steinhoff's decision to open a case against Jooste with the Hawks, but urged them to do the same with other people who are alleged to have committed irregularities.

"The Committees feel that they need to follow up on progress with regard to the cases that were opened with the Hawks. They recognised the elusive and highly complex, technical, global nature of the crisis and the variety of bodies locally and globally that are investigating Steinhoff and, expressed the need for cooperation."

The Committees did not get the sense that the Financial Services Board (FSB), Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) and National Treasury are being decisive enough in pursuing the Steinhoff matter, especially given its gravity and huge implications.

They urged these bodies to be thorough but also swift, and undertake to actively monitor the progress.

"The Committees feel far more needs to be done, decisively and swiftly," said the committees, adding that the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and Public Investment Corporation (PIC) have to draw clear lessons from their experience of Steinhoff and be more careful about their investment decisions.

Accelerating bills

The Standing Committee on Finance will accelerate its processing of the Committee and Private Members Bills that seek to ensure greater accountability to Parliament and compulsory representation of workers on the PIC board.

It will also expeditiously process legislation to give the IRBA more teeth to act against irregularities by auditors. In addition, it will write to the Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, to request that amendments by National Treasury to be brought to Parliament by the end of March for finalisation.

"The Committees maintains that Parliament needs to tackle corporate greed and public sector corruption with equal vigour. Accordingly, they recognize that in any case, all so often, there are direct links between corruption in the public and private sectors.

In December, Minister Gigaba met with various stakeholders to discuss developments at Steinhoff International.

The Minister has previously called on corporates to maintain a high standard of corporate governance.

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