Hawks investigating three cases of fraud at Steinhoff, its subsidiaries

Police Minister Bheki Cele has confirmed that the Hawks are investigating three cases related to allegations of fraud at Steinhoff [JSE: SNH] and its subsidiaries.

Cele had issued a written reply dated May 2, 2018 to a question by DA MP David Maynier - who had asked if the Hawks or the South African Police Service were investigating accounting irregularities at the company.

Maynier also asked if the Hawks had received a report from Steinhoff’s audit committee chair Steve Booysen related to allegations against former CEO Markus Jooste.

In his response, Cele explained that the Hawks had received a report from Booysen on January 30.

The report alleges that Jooste is guilty of several offences.

One related to him being party to the "falsification of accounting records" and that he is guilty of "knowingly providing false or misleading information" for fraudulent purposes, when the law required otherwise.

Another allegation is that Jooste was party to an "act or omission by the company to defraud creditors or employees of the company, or the holders of the company’s securities", again for fraudulent purposes.

The report also alleges that Jooste was party to the "preparation, approval, dissemination or publication of a prospectus or a written statement" which contains an "untrue statement" as defined or described in terms of the Companies Act.

Hawks head of specialised commercial crimes Major-General Alfred Khana had also previously told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance in March that there were three Steinhoff matters being investigated.

Two cases were filed in Stellenbosch and one in Sandton. At the time he explained that the Hawks will be probing fraud at Steinhoff. "Everything that has been done relates to misrepresentation, which led to billions [of rands in losses] suffered by various bodies or individual parties," he said. 

He had also criticised Booysen for dropping the report, a day before Steinhoff’s first hearing at Parliament on January 31. He had said the Hawks had to get detailed information from Booysen to have a "decent investigation" into the matter.

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