Wiese: Forensic report will reveal what went wrong at Steinhoff

SA billionaire Christo Wiese. (Photo: Bloomberg Video)
SA billionaire Christo Wiese. (Photo: Bloomberg Video)

Former Steinhoff chairperson Christo Wiese said that the forensic investigation into the global retailer would ultimately reveal how accounting fraud took place.

Wiese was speaking to Stephen Grootes on SAfm on Friday. Grootes had asked him how the retailer was looted under his watch.

Wiese said he had only become chairperson of Steinhoff [JSE:SNH] in July 2016 and had chaired “exactly four board meetings” during his tenure.

“Steinhoff had some of the most highly respected board members for years or decades before I became a board member. It had an extremely highly qualified audit committee. It had a sophisticated internal audit function,” he said.

The retailer operated in 33 countries with different boards and different audit committees.

“It was regularly analysed by top ranking analysts around the world. It was regularly analysed by banks, ratings agencies… There is not a filter in the world through which it did not go,” Wiese said.

Despite this one or several people managed to perpetrate fraud - if that is what the forensic auditing report reveals, he told Grootes. The report is expected to be released at the end of the year.

"If you have fraud in a company it is always a problem. Remember I can’t make a statement yet because I’m waiting for the report," he emphasised. 

In the meantime, Wiese’s Titan Group is suing Steinhoff for R59bn, effectively to get back the value for Pepkor which Steinhoff acquired through agreements in 2015 and 2016.

Steinhoff had said it would “vigorously defend” itself against Wiese’s claim.

This week, the majority of Steinhoff’s creditors supported its debt restructure plan, Bloomberg reported. The shares rallied, trading up 17% to R3.61 on Thursday’s session.

The share price on Friday opened at R3.70 but declined to close 9.27% weaker at R3.23 per share.

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