Absa is being targeted for damages in the Steinhoff scandal due to its involvement in the production of the disgraced company’s 2015 prospectus to shareholders.
VEB, the Dutch nonprofit organisation that has launched a class action against Stainhoff in the Netherlands, gave Absa, Barclays and Commerzbank notices on Wednesday.
The notice “is an invitation to them to consult with VEB about an amicable settlement, failing which VEB may file a class action lawsuit under Dutch process law against the banks,” VEB said.
The banks all provided services to Steinhoff when it was producing two prospectuses in 2015 that preceded its listing in Frankfurt.
“The prospectuses were misleading – VEB questions whether the prospectuses properly represent Steinhoff’s financial position. VEB concludes that the banks have – in their respective roles and capacities – acted wrongfully in respect of Steinhoff investors,” the Dutch group said in a statement.
VEB had earlier told City Press that it might target large firms that provided Steinhoff with services as it seeks to recoup some part of the billions which shareholders lost when the retail company’s share price collapsed in December.
It specifically mentioned auditor Deloitte as a possible source of funds due to its apparent failure to catch the misstatements in the Steinhoff books.
The damage to shareholders was in the region of R200 billion after it was revealed in December that Steinhoff management had cooked the company’s books.