Nothing 'sinister' about keeping full forensic probe confidential, says Steinhoff

Steinhoff shareholders were told on Friday that a 3 000-page forensic probe into the accounting scandal that caused the group's shareprice to fall off a cliff in late 2017, would remain confidential. 

The group's annual general meeting took place in Amsterdam on Friday. 

The Stellenbosch-headquartered retailer's leadership was asked by more than one shareholder why the findings of a 16-month forensic probe by PwC had not been made public. Steinhoff instituted the probe in December 2017 after its CEO Markus Jooste abruptly resigned.

The group's shares have fallen by over 95% since Jooste resigned; while total group debt has risen to €9.09bn.

Steinhoff CEO Louis du Preez said on Friday that Steinhoff still viewed the report as confidential and privileged due to on-going litigation. 

Steinhoff is facing numerous litigation claims in South Africa, as well as in Europe - where it is domiciled – due to misstatements in previous earnings reports.  The group has also instituted civil claims against former executives, including Markus Jooste, which Jooste is opposing. 

Its chairperson, Heather Sonn, told the meeting there was nothing "sinister" to be read into the report being kept confidential, saying it was not an attempt to protect the personal interests if anyone. 

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