Steinhoff challenges court ruling ordering it to open its books to media

Steinhoff has filed a notice for leave to appeal a high court ruling stating it must hand over a 2019 PwC report into the 2017 collapse to media houses amaBhungane and Tiso Blackstar.

Steinhoff was ordered to hand over a 3,000-page damning report into the country’s biggest accounting scandal within 10 days of the judgment.

But it appears as though this latest leave to appeal notice signals a move away from claims of transparency and accountability to society.

The 2017 scandal caused a dramatic drop in its share price and led to CEO Markus Jooste resigning from the company.

When Steinhoff first sought to contain PwC’s findings, it argued the report must remain confidential in order to ensure successful prosecutions against former executives, including Jooste. 

In its leave to appeal, the retailer is arguing that it would be “prejudiced by the premature disclosure of the contents”.

According to reports, lawyers for Steinhoff are expected to argue there is “clear evidence” that it was already contemplating litigation when it commissioned PwC to conduct the probe in late 2017.

Last year, three top Steinhoff executives had been formally charged in Germany with balance sheet fraud which allegedly took place in 2015.

Reports suggest that Jooste and Steinhoff’s former chief for Europe, Dirk Schreiber, are among the three charged.

Locally, the matter is still being investigated by the Hawks, while the National Prosecuting Authority cited a lack of funds to prosecute implicated individuals.

Compiled by Narissa Subramoney

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