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Former Steinhoff CEO, CFO among 8 named for €6.51B accounting fraud

Former Steinhoff International Holdings NV CEO Markus Jooste and former CFO Ben la Grange are among eight people who played a role in a €6.51 billion accounting fraud at the embattled retailer, Reuters reported March 19.

The revelation comes on the heels of the results from a forensic investigation by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

According to the PwC's report, a small group of former Steinhoff executives and other non-Steinhoff executives, led by a senior management executive, implemented certain fictitious or irregular transactions that resulted in profit and asset values of Steinhoff being substantially inflated over an extended period.

The transactions over a period covering fiscal 2009 through fiscal 2017 amounted to €6.51 billion. PwC's summary report, posted on Steinhoff's website, did not reveal the names of the people involved.

On March 19, however, Steinhoff was instructed by South African lawmakers in a parliament session to reveal the names of the executives responsible for the fictitious or improper deals, Reuters reported.

Du Preez then reportedly told lawmakers that Jooste, la Grange, two Steinhoff executives and four other outsiders played a role in inflating Steinhoff profits and asset values over several years.

The CEO also said that the company will pursue claims against the people involved in the matter and will co-operate with legal authorities on any civil or criminal investigation. However, Steinhoff has repeatedly refused to share the full PwC report with regulators including the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, citing legal advice, Reuters reported.

Steinhoff, which owns Mattress Firm in the U.S., and Poundland in the U.K., disclosed Dec. 6, 2017, that it had appointed PwC to investigate accounting irregularities. Jooste resigned the same day with immediate effect.