Ben la Grange was Steinhoff’s CFO under Markus Jooste.
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange has disqualified Steinhoff’s former Chief Financial Officer Ben La Grange from acting as a company director for 10 years and fined him a total of R2 million for “failing to fulfil his duties and responsibilities” with “due care and skill”.
La Grange, who served as CFO under the group’s former head Markus Jooste, was found to have processed a handwritten invoice for €23.5 million (about R376 million at the time) handed to him by Markus Jooste in 2016, that the JSE found was fictitious.
“There was no actual transaction nor any legitimate commercial reason that supported the information or calculations contained in the handwritten document,” it said.
The JSE found that La Grange, who said he was not aware at the time that the invoice was false, should have tried harder to check if it was genuine.
“La Grange ought to have known, that due to the numerous accounting irregularities, Steinhoff’s previously published financial information failed to comply with International Financial Reporting Standards and was incorrect, false and misleading in material respects,” said the JSE.
It appears the fine may have been bigger had La Grange not been “unwavering” in his co-operation with the JSE’s investigation, including providing disclosures that assisted the JSE in its investigation against Steinhoff.
The JSE said that its “investigation into the conduct of other individuals that presided at the company during the periods in question and who were bound by the Llstings requirements is ongoing.”
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