THE BOTTOM LINE
Hopes that former CFO will spill a few beans on Steinhoff
Ben le Grange says he’ll attend the third in the series of parliamentary hearings into this corporate scandal
The planned hearing later this month into the circumstances surrounding the collapse of Steinhoff by no less than three portfolio committees will be the third in the series of parliamentary hearings into this corporate scandal.
The highlight of the end-August event is likely to be the appearance of the group’s former CFO Ben le Grange.Le Grange has apparently indicated he will attend the hearing, having missed the first two. If he changes his mind, and assuming former CEO Markus Jooste continues to turn down invitations to attend, the parliamentarians, journalists and members of the public will probably have to rely on the various regulatory bodies for entertainment on the day.
This might be a little dull but it will nevertheless be a worthwhile exercise. Ensuring entities such as the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, Independent Regulatory Body for Auditors, the JSE, the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, and the Reserve Bank have to stand up and remind the public of exactly why they have not been able to make much, if any, progress makes it a useful exercise.
For one thing it ensures these entities know that the public will not easily overlook the fact they have a role to play in controlling companies. In addition, given that they are unlikely to be able to report much progress, it will also remind everyone of how poorly resourced, or ineffectual, they are.
Perhaps it’s time for the MPs to extend their invitations to the banks and institutional shareholders, who provided much of the fuel for Steinhoff’s frenzied global acquisition spree. The PIC has already put in an appearance and added nothing to anyone’s understanding of the issues. But while parliament is paying some attention there is some hope that someone will be held accountable for the loss of hundreds of billions of rand.