Former Steinhoff chief executive Marcus Joost has issued an apology, stating he “made some big mistakes” and may have caused financial loss to many people.
Following his shock departure last week after nearly 30 years at the company, the South African retail empire – which owns Poundland and Benson for Beds in the UK – has seen around £9 billion wiped off its value.
The company’s financial results were due for release last week, but were postponed to make way for an probe over “accounting irregularities”.
German prosecutors are thought to be investigating whether Steinhoff inflated its revenues.
“Now I have caused the company further damage by not being able to finalise the year-end audited numbers and I made some big mistakes and have now caused financial loss to many innocent people,” Jooste wrote in a letter first seen by the South African press.
“It is time for me to move on and take the consequences of my behaviour like a man.”
Following a sharp downgrade by ratings agency Moody’s last week, Steinhoff’s share price has plummeted by 88 per cent.
Moody’s has stated that further downgrades could be in store should further details of “accounting irregularities” emerge.
It has also urged authorities to investigate Deloitte, the firm’s auditors.