Absa, Deloitte and Standard Chartered targeted in R185 billion suit over Steinhoff

Standard Chartered and Commerzbank are among companies targeted by investors suing Steinhoff International Holdings to recover as much as 12 billion euros ($13.8 billion) they claim they lost because of accounting irregularities at the retail giant.

The suit was filed in Johannesburg and seeks class-action status to cover shareholders who bought Steinhoff stock from 26 June 2013 to 5 December 2017, South African lawfirm LHL Attorneys said in an emailed statement.

Other businesses with links to Steinhoff including ABSA Bank, auditors Deloitte and Roedl & Partner were also named as co-defendants as the shareholders seek to recoup their money. Individuals targeted include former Steinhoff Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste, ex-Chairman Christo Wiese and former Chief Financial Officer Ben la Grange.

Furniture retailer Steinhoff plunged more than 90% in December after it said it couldn’t release its financial results and was trying to figure out if there was a 6 billion-euro hole in the balance sheet. The company in July won support from creditors to restructure 9.4 billion euros of debt. Auditors at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC are investigating the accounts and aim to publish a report by the end of the year.

A spokesman for Steinhoff said the company hasn’t received any court papers in the matter. A Commerzbank spokesman said the lender doesn’t comment on current or potential client relationships.

Standard Chartered, Wiese and lawyers for Jooste and la Grange didn’t reply to emails seeking comment. ABSA bank didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Roedl & Partner declined to comment citing confidentiality rules. A Deloitte spokeswoman said the auditor hasn’t received any information on this beyond press reports and thus declined to comment.

The suit is backed by Stichting Steinhoff International Compensation Claims, a foundation under Dutch law to organize investors who seek compensation.

Read: How ex-Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste made millions by dealing in ‘cheap’ stock

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Absa, Deloitte and Standard Chartered targeted in R185 billion suit over Steinhoff