Steinhoff’s CFO steps down as investigation deepens

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CFO

Another key Steinhoff figure has stepped down, spelling further trouble for the embattled retail company as details of accounting irregularities continue to surface.

Ben la Grange, Steinhoff’s chief financial officer, left his role on Thursday.

He will reportedly now focus on the “finalisation of the company’s audited 2017 consolidated financial statements” as the company – which owns Poundland, Harveys and Bensons for Beds in the UK – scrambles to provide reliable financial reports.

La Grange marks the latest board-level departure at Steinhiff, following the sudden departure of chief executive Marcus Jooste and chairman Christo Weise last month.

PwC, who are conducting an independent investigation into Steinhoff’s accounts, stated there was “no evidence to suggest that the CFO had any involvement in the matters under investigation”.

After news of “accounting irregularities” broke, Steinhoff has seen around 90 per cent of its share value disappear.

This was due in part to the company announcing that its accounts from both 2016 and 2015 would have to be restated, suggesting long term misstatements.

Although details of the irregularities are not yet entirely clear, German criminal prosecutors told the Financial Times that they’re investigating whether Steinhoff could have inflated revenues by selling intangible assets and partnership shares.

These sales are reportedly worth hundreds of millions of euros.

La Grange will be succeeded by Steinhoff UK’s finance boss Philip Dieperink.

Last month, Danie van der Merwe was named as acting chief executive while Heather Sonn was drafted in as acting chair.

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