12/01/2018 07:02 SAST | Updated 12/01/2018 07:02 SAST

SA Investors Join Dutch Class Action Suit Against Steinhoff

Steinhoff faces lawsuits by investors in the Netherlands, Germany, and now South Africa.

Markus Jooste, former CEO of Steinhoff.
Jeremy Glyn/Financial Mail/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Markus Jooste, former CEO of Steinhoff.

A group of South African investors wants to join a Dutch class-action suit against Steinhoff, Business Day reported on Friday.

This is according to the Dutch Investors Association (VEB), which reportedly initiated its class action suit on December 7, after Steinhoff announced it had launched an investigation into allegations of accounting fraud. The European Investors' Association is reportedly also joining the class action.

Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste resigned in December after allegations of massive accounting fraud emerged.

Steinhoff is registered in South Africa and its primary listing in Frankfurt. However, its head office is in Amsterdam. Steinhoff also reportedly faces a class action in Frankfurt on behalf of German investors. Dutch authorities are also investigating Steinhoff's auditors, Deloitte.

Dutch law reportedly gives VEB significant powers to hold Steinhoff and its directors to account, while opening up the action to global shareholders. VEB can also sue on behalf of anonymous investors. The suit could extend to Steinhoff's directors and advisers at a later stage.

Adding to Steinhoff's woes, the European Central Bank (ECB) revealed this week that it had disposed of its Steinhoff securities because the company was downgraded to junk status by ratings agencies, according to a report by MoneyWeb.

Steinhoff's was dealt another blow on the South African front this week when Parliament announced that it would also be probing its conduct. According to Fin24, Parliamentary hearings are due to start at the end of January. Chairperson of Parliament's portfolio committee on finance, Yunus Carrim, reportedly said on Thursday that the hearings would be jointly held with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi confirmed this on Twitter.