The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) and our largest Affiliate the PSA will enforce access to inspect the records – including available financial records – of Steinhoff in terms of Section 26 of the Company Act on Friday, 19 January 2018 at 10h00 at the company’s offices in Stellenbosch.
The Company Act determines that any person who holds or has a beneficial interest in any securities issued by a company like Steinhoff, has a right to inspect and copy the information contained in the records of the company, as well as any other information to the extent granted by the Memorandum of Incorporation. Our attorneys have already informed Steinhoff in the prescribed manner and in writing, according to the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (Act No. 2 of 2000), about our intended inspection.
The Company Act further makes provision for the inspection of the register of members and register of directors of a company free of charge. It is an offence for Steinhoff to fail to accommodate any reasonable request for access, or to unreasonably refuse access, to any record that a person has a right to inspect or copy in terms of Section 20 of the Company Act. The Act also makes provision that Steinhoff may not impede, interfere with, or attempt to frustrate, the reasonable exercise by any person of the rights in the Act.
Since December last year, Steinhoff has been responsible for the biggest corporate scandal to beset our country and the alleged gross lapses in corporate governance, ethics and proper board oversight, have destroyed the company’s share-value to the detriment of creditors, investors and asset managers. Steinhoff’s response to concerns from stakeholders like organised labour, who have substantial amounts investments in the company through worker’s pension funds, at best, has been opaque.
FEDUSA and the PSA believe it is precisely because of corporate arrogance and the lack of transparency and disclosure that Steinhoff now is the subject of investigations into alleged instances of massive fraud, corruption, gross negligence and accounting irregularities by domestic and international regulators. We believe it is in the interests of our members’ pension funds, other investors, and in the interest of good corporate governance that Steinhoff and its former and current directors should be properly held to account. All remedies in domestic law must be explored so that we can independently establish the truth about Steinhoff.
FEDUSA and the PSA will also collaborate and co-operate with the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance of Parliament, Yunus Carrim, as well as with the Financial Services Board (FSB), the SA Reserve Bank, the Public Investment Corporation, Government Employees’ Pension Fund, the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) and the JSE. It is important for FEDUSA and the PSA to do everything in our power to protect the pension fund investments of our members and workers in general.