Ex-Steinhoff CFO Ben la Grange facing investor class action


Several Steinhoff International directors have been served with papers as part of multibillion-rand lawsuit.

Former Steinhoff CFO Ben la Grange along with former CEO Markus Jooste , former chair Christo Wiese , his son, Toerama director Jacob Wiese , and current chair Heather Sonn have all been served with papers claiming nearly R200 billion in a class action lawsuit against the embattled retail group. 

Steinhoff, its subsidiaries, directors and auditors Deloitte SA have also been accused of misinforming shareholders between June 2013 and December 2017. 

Wiese, who confirmed that all the directors have been served papers, is also claiming R59 billion from Steinhoff in another suit. 

Even if Steinhoff can't come up with the money, the directors - or the insurance companies that sold them liability insurance - and other listed defendant companies, such as Deloitte , PSG Capital or Commerzbank , might. 

The rest of the individuals and institutions on the list are expected to be served in the next few weeks followed by the certification of the case by the High Court as a class action - which could happen by April or May - according to Zain Lundell , member of LHL Attorneys , the South African firm involved.

In October last year, the Dutch Investors' Association (VEB) agreed to put the class action against Steinhoff on hold until April this year to allow the company time to restructure. 

Read more: Steinhoff Netherlands lawsuit suspended until next year

The restructure, however, has been challenged by creditor LSW GmbH without reason. 

Read more: Steinhoff restructure challenged by creditor

Once the case has been certified as a class action, a timeline for the rest of the process will be mapped out. 

In the meantime, it is getting tougher and tougher for Steinhoff to convince investors that it can continue to operate. 

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