Hawks not suing Steinhoff over PwC report

The Directorate for Priority Criminal Investigation (the Hawks) has denied reports that it may sue Steinhoff for not handing over the final PwC report into the circumstances of the company’s scandal.

Steinhoff chair Heather Sonn and group CEO Louis du Preez briefed a joint meeting of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance, Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration, and Portfolio Committee on Police on Wednesday.

At the heart of the scandal is former CEO Markus Jooste and allegations of insider trading, cooking financial books and dodging taxes, all of which caused the company’s share price to crash, wiping out R20bn in investments from public pensions.

During the parliamentary briefing, the Hawks told Members of Parliament that although Steinhoff granted them access to the PwC report in principle, the company did not hand the report over to them.

Reports emerged on Thursday that the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority were considering taking legal action against Steinhoff for defeating the ends of justice. However, Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi denied this. 

Mulaudzi told Fin24 that the Hawks were still in discussions with the NPA and Steinhoff about getting the report and that the Hawks were confident of the company’s commitment to cooperate with investigations.

"We are of the view that in the report there are aspects we want to deal with as part of our investigations. Initially they were not keen to share the report. But through negotiations with the company and the NPA and investigators, the company is committed to cooperating," Mulaudzi said.

Sonn told parliament that Steinhoff management is trying to "protecting the interests of shareholders of the companies while allowing the criminal prosecutorial processes to take place".

She said many details pertaining to the company were privileged and would prejudice shareholders and investigations in other jurisdictions where Steinhoff has a presence. 

Mulaudzi said the Hawks understand Steinhoff's position.

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