PwC hound now a Steinhoff watchdog

07 April 2019 - 00:06 By TJ STRYDOM


Steinhoff International has appointed the man who has spent more than a year combing through its dealings as its new chief compliance and risk officer.
Louis Strydom was the PwC partner in charge of the forensic investigation started shortly after the resignation of CEO Markus Jooste in December 2017.
Jooste's departure, and Steinhoff's postponement of its annual results release due to "accounting irregularities", sparked the sell-off which wiped more than 90% off the value of what had been the seventh-largest company listed on the JSE.
The company has spent most of the time since selling assets and persuading creditors to give it enough time to restructure and hopefully trade itself out of trouble.
But Steinhoff's route forward is fraught with risk. "It is crucial that we have a central role to ensure independent risk oversight across the entire group," Steinhoff chairperson Heather Sonn said in a statement.This is where Strydom comes in."Across his career, Louis headed up various global teams, including the team that carried out the Steinhoff forensic investigation over the past 15 months and, as such, is very familiar with the group and the risks Steinhoff is facing," the statement added.Strydom is a chartered accountant who has spent more than three decades in the advisory and auditing profession.After taking receipt of PwC's report last month, Steinhoff also announced that it was taking action against a small group of executives, aided by a few individuals outside the company who, over nearly a decade, had allegedly inflated the company's profits by more than R100bn.CEO Louis du Preez revealed in parliament later that Jooste was one of those being pursued.The company on Friday also announced that the release of its 2017 and 2018 annual financial results would have to be postponed yet again.The PwC report threw a spanner in the works as the volume and complexity of the accounting and audit work required to address the transactions identified created a significantly greater workload than was anticipated, the company said in a separate statement."Substantial progress has been made and despite a major and sustained effort from the whole team, more time is required," said CFO Philip Dieperink.Steinhoff's 2017 results are now set to be released on May 7 and the 2018 numbers on June 18. Its interim statements will also be delayed as a result, the statement added.Steinhoff again warned shareholders to remain cautious when trading its shares.strydomt@sundaytimes.co.za

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