The African People’s Convention (APC) leader Themba Godi has become the latest to criticise the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) decision to accept R30 million from Steinhoff, which is meant to fund its probe into the multibillion rand corruption scandal which nearly collapsed the retail giant.
Financial Mail had reported on Friday, 5 March 2021, that Steinhoff had agreed to give the NPA and the Hawks money to help fund an investigation, in which its considered an implicated party.
Themba Godi on Steinhoff’s generosity to NPA: ‘This is reckless’
Speaking to eNCA, Themba Godi, who is also the former chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), said the decision was a reckless one.
“The action by Steinhoff is totally unprecedented where a party that is being investigated plays sugar daddy to the state, which is supposed to be investigated. I believe that this is reckless, in the same way that a company with such huge liabilities can pay its senior officials over a R100 million,” Godi said.
In December 2017, the company’s then CEO Markus Jooste resigned, in the midst of allegations of so-called ‘accounting irregularities’ – one of the biggest corporate scandals to ever rock South Africa.
Steinhoff’s share price immediately plunged by 66% and went on to fall by over 90% as it emerged that the company had overstated profits and assets by nearly $12 billion. Steinhoff said it would be working with the authorities in the extensive investigation.
Auditing group PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) is sifting through more than three million records of evidence including emails and contents of laptops and mobile phones. The NPA said Steinhoff was particularly paying PricewaterhouseCoopers and emphasised that the implicated individuals have already left the company, so there were no concerns over interference.
“They are paying for that there is no money flowing from the government. They are paying for the services that happen all the time. You would have seen in many cases were people were witnesses in murder cases, for example, and then they end up being suspects and they get arrested, but they would have assisted. There’s assistance here that is given. All I’m saying is that someone pays for the forensic report and in this particular case the people are not suspects, its new people; it’s a new board. The people that are implicated left the company”, said NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema.