Dutch law firm BarentsKrans has commenced legal proceedings against Steinhoff and its auditor Deloitte on behalf of aggrieved shareholders of the retail company.
While the claim centres around Steinhoff, the Big Four firm is named as a co-defendant on the grounds that it failed to report accounting irregularities which prevented Steinhoff from publishing its financial results for 2016 and 2017.
Deloitte is currently being investigated by the South African watchdog The Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors.
The legal claim will be conducted in the Netherlands but Steinhoff shareholders from across the world are eligible to participate.
BarentsKrans invites shareholders who acquired shares in Steinhoff or its predecessor entity Steinhoff International Holdings Limited between 26 June 2013 and 6 December 2017 to register to participate.
Referring to Steinhoff’s share prices plummeting over 80% since the news broke in December, Jan-Willem de Jong, lawyer at BarentsKrans commented: “The market was completely caught by surprise, which is underlined by the steep decline of Steinhoff’s share price.”
He added: “It is clear that investors have been harmed in a significant way and now it’s time for them to seek compensation.”
Litigation funding company Claims Funding Europe will be financing the case. Martin Hyde, director of Claims Funding Europe said: “For years Steinhoff shareholders were misled about the true financial position of the company and vital information was withheld from the market.”
“The resulting losses suffered by shareholders were enormous and investors who suffered loss are entitled to compensation. From individual shareholders to large pension funds, it is time for aggrieved Steinhoff investors to make a stand.”
After the accounting irregularities were reported, Steinhoff hired PwC to conduct an independent review of the accounts.
BarentsKrans commented that several criminal, regulatory and parliamentary investigations into Steinhoff are ongoing in a number of jurisdictions, and “subject to the outcome of these investigations and further information being released by Steinhoff, the scope and relevant period for the case may be extended or modified.”
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