March 19, 2019 / 11:09 AM / 6 months ago

Ex-CEO, seven others responsible for Steinhoff fraud, new CEO tells lawmakers

FILE PHOTO: Steinhoff's former Chief Executive Markus Jooste appears in parliament to face a panel investigating an accounting scandal that rocked the retailer in Cape Town, South Africa, September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Former Steinhoff Chief Executive Markus Jooste and seven others were involved in a 6.5 billion euro ($7.4 billion) accounting fraud at the South African retailer, the new CEO said told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Steinhoff said on Friday an independent report had found it overstated profits over several years in the fraud that involved a small group of top executives and outsiders. PwC conducted the independent investigation.

The company did not name the individuals last week, citing legal reasons. But during Tuesday’s session in parliament South African lawmakers instructed Louis du Preez, who was appointed CEO last year, to reveal those involved.

Du Preez named former CEO Jooste and former Chief Financial Officer Ben la Grange, alongside six other people, who he said had inflated Steinhoff profits and asset values over several years.

Jooste, who resigned hours before Steinhoff disclosed the hole in its accounts in December 2017, could not be reached for comment through his lawyer. He has previously denied any wrong doing.

La Grange could not immediately be reached for comment through his lawyer.

Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng and Wendell Roelf; Editing by Louise Heavens and Edmund Blair

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