Local media in Germany are reporting that the Oldenburg public prosecutor’s office has completed its investigation into the Steinhoff matter. Manager Magazin reported that the investigation was focused on three top execs, who could end up behind bars by the end of this week. It reports that the Oldenburg public prosecutor’s office has now completed its investigation into the matter, which has been running since 2015. Oldenburg is near the town of Westerstede, where Steinhoff was founded. In 2015 the retail conglomerate moved its primary listing from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
The Germans probe is separate from an ongoing investigation into Steinhoff which is being undertaken by the Hawks. Media reports did not name any of the executives, but two key executives, CEO Markus Jooste, and former chief for Europe, Dirk Schreiber have been under investigation since the scandal broke. Since the financial scandal was uncovered in 2015, no Steinhoff executives were brought to book, leading to widespread condemnation by the retailer’s shareholders who have incurred billions in financial losses.
The three execs face up to three years imprisonment for alleged balance sheet manipulation. The probe into Steinhoff’s financial misdealing is two-fold, with the other part being conducted by the South African investigation unit, the Hawks. However, the local investigation of Steinhoff has been criticised for its slow pace. In response, there are reports that the Hawks lack the resources to finance a probe into the company.
Political parties have been calling for the arrests of the executives behind the scandal. Economic Freedom Fighters in parliament on Wednesday, questioned the National Prosecuting Authority on why the executives haven’t been arrested.