Steinhoff's former CEO says not aware of accounting
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[September 05, 2018]
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) -
Steinhoff's <SNHJ.J> former chief executive Markus Jooste was not aware
of any accounting irregularities when he left the retailer in December,
he told a South African parliamentary inquiry on Wednesday which is
examining an accounting scandal that rocked the retailer.
Jooste, who is also under fraud investigation by South African police,
resigned in December after the company, which has more than 40 retail
brands including Conforama in France, Poundland in the UK and Mattress
Firm in the United States, uncovered accounting irregularities.
The news hit its share price and left the company scrambling for working
Jooste was instrumental in transforming Steinhoff from a small
Johannesburg furniture outfit into multinational retailer.
In his first public testimony about the scandal, Jooste said he never
lied about activities of the company and neither sold his shares in
Steinhoff nor held a short position on its stock.
He told the inquiry that he lost 3 billion rand ($193 million) due to
the company's stock price collapse after the scandal was uncovered.
"I must place on record that when I left Steinhoff on the 4th of
December, I was not aware of any accounting irregularities they are
referring to," Jooste said.
"I don't blame anybody for what happened at Steinhoff."
Steinhoff's battered shares rose at much as 5 percent as Jooste gave his
testimony to the parliamentary committee.
[to top of second column]
Steinhoff's former Chief Executive Markus Jooste appears in
parliament to face a panel investigating an accounting scandal that
rocked the retailer in Cape Town, South Africa, September 5, 2018.
In July, creditors agreed to hold debt claims for three years, removing a
imminent threat of default that would have tipped the company into bankruptcy.
Steinhoff's chairwoman a week ago told the parliamentary committee that its
board would meet to discuss asset sales to boost cash flow and pay down debt,
months after creditors of the South African retailer threw it a lifeline.
On Tuesday, Steinhoff said a subsidiary had agreed to sell a 50 percent stake
and related properties in German furniture chain POCO to Andreas Seifert for 271
million euros ($313 million).
Steinhoff last week reported a 2 percent rise in sales to 12.9 billion euros
($15 billion) for the nine months to June 30 helped by a strong showing at its
listed African unit Pepkor <PPHJ.J>.
($1 = 0.8640 euros)
(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; writing by James Macharia; editing by Jason
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