The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has confirmed that it has received money from Steinhoff to assist with a forensic probe into the company’s auditing scandal, but insists there is no conflict of interest. Three top Steinhoff executives were formally charged in Germany on Thursday with balance sheet fraud, which allegedly took place in 2015.
The Steinhoff scandal wiped out billions of rand from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
However, no arrests have been made yet in a case known as the biggest accounting fraud in corporate South Africa.
NPA spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema, says at this stage, Steinhoff is also a victim that wants to see justice served.
“People need to understand that first of all, that this is a new board that instituted the investigation against directors that have left. So, if you understand this, the people involved in those activities are gone. The new board have also become complainants. They’ve given to the police and laid a criminal charge. They are paying for that. There is no money flowing into the government.
So, they are paying PwC for the services and there is no conflict. So, the company as well, they see themselves as victims. We would have outsourced that function in any case, but we are already under pressure to deliver on this particular matter.”
Ngwema added that if the NPA had other sources of funding for the probe, they would not have accepted funds offered by Steinhoff.
He says Steinoff has offered R30 million to help finance the investigation, because the state doesn’t have the budget.
“They are paying for that there is no money flowing from the government. They are paying for the services that happen all the time. You would have seen in many cases were people were witnesses in murder cases, for example, and then they end up being suspects and they get arrested, but they would have assisted. There’s assistance here that is given. All I’m saying is that someone pays for the forensic report and in this particular case the people are not suspects, its new people; it’s a new board. The people that are implicated left the company.”
NPA says there is no conflict with Steinhoff paying for forensic probe into its scandal:
Good progress in investigations
On Thursday, the NPA said there is good progress in investigations regarding the Steinhoff saga.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said investigations into accounting fraud at the embattled retail group remain the country’s priority.
Ngwema confirmed that investigations to recoup the funds from Steinhoff or to bring those involved to book are well under way.
“We need to be able to meet the standards of proving beyond any reasonable doubt that if there are any people who are guilty they can be found guilty by a court of law and, therefore, that takes a long time and it means that a lot has to be done from an investigation point of view to meet all those requirement.”
NPA says the investigation into Steinhoff is proceeding very well, but we can’t give running commentary: