Ex-Steinhoff CFO released on R150k bail on fraud charges

Justice is being sought for Steinhoff corruption. File photo

Justice is being sought for Steinhoff corruption. File photo

Published Jun 27, 2024


Nicola Mawson

STEINHOFF’S former chief financial officer (CFO), Andries Benjamin le Grange, has been released on bail after appearing at the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on charges of fraud.

Le Grange, who paid R150 000 in bail, handed himself over to the Serious Economic Offences unit yesterday morning, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo told Business Report.

The former CFO is set to face two counts of racketeering under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act in addition to five counts of fraud, one of corruption under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act as well as three counts of contravening the Financial Markets Act following Steinhoff’s spectacular implosion and its October 2023 liquidation.

Steinhoff International, which used to own brands such as Ackermans, HiFi Corp, Incredible Connection, and Timbercity, was listed in both Johannesburg and Germany. It was subsequently delisted in the wake of South Africa’s biggest corporate scandal.

In 2017, news broke of the fraud of €6.5 billion (R134bn) which was initially explained as an accounting error. The actions of Steinhoff’s former CEO and alleged kingpin of the fraud, Markus Jooste, and other executives at Steinhoff crushed the company after it lost nearly 100% of its market value due to the fraud revelations.

The theft also cost the Public Investment Corporation close to R21bn in investments. The matter came to light after Deloitte refused to sign off on the company’s 2017 results, with findings subsequently made public including that financial information had been falsified.

The former CFO was in court alongside his co-accused, Stephanus Grobler, a previous executive of the now defunct company, who was in court seeking a trial postponement as well as review of his bail conditions. Grobler initially appeared in court on March 25 after his arrest three days earlier.

Jooste killed himself in the midst of trials in Germany and a day after the Financial Sector Conduct Authority fined him R475 million, the largest yet fine by the authority on an individual, for accounting irregularities at the company.

Jooste, at the time of his death, was under investigation by the National Prosecuting Authority in a criminal case and was set to face penalties of up to R15m or 10 years’ imprisonment, or both.

A former employee of the South African Reserve Bank is still being investigated for allegedly overseeing Steinhoff International’s cross-border transactions in 2022.