Shareholders seeking to recover billions of rands lost in the wake of Steinhoff International’s collapse in one of SA’s biggest corporate frauds to date won a significant victory on Wednesday.
Dutch courts dismissed Steinhoff’s attempts to delay claims by VEB and ordered the company to provide a response to allegations by the Dutch association of shareholders by November 7.
“The court ruling is a real boost for Steinhoff investors as the Dutch legal system is pre-eminently suitable to obtain clarity on events at Steinhoff‚” said Armand Kersten‚ head of international relations at VEB.
The Hague-based not-for-profit organisation is hoping to get a ruling that Steinhoff is responsible for the damages suffered by shareholders. Once it has secured that‚ it can pursue the company for compensation.
Steinhoff has argued against a Dutch court ruling on the case since only 0.25% of its shareholders are based in the Netherlands. VEB‚ which has successfully sued Dutch-based companies before‚ said it represented about 3% of Steinhoff’s stockholders.
Steinhoff also argued that the VEB case should be postponed until the investigation by audit firm PwC was completed and the group’s annual accounts finalised.