Ex-Steinhoff CFO released on bail

Ben La Grange

The former CFO of collapsed South African retailer Steinhoff appeared in court Wednesday, three months after his ex-boss died by alleged suicide when he was told to hand himself over to police.

Ben la Grange appeared in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court alongside former legal head Stehan Grobler, who was in court for a second time. 

La Grange previously said he was working with authorities as they investigated questionable transactions at the company that owned Conforama in France and Mattress Firm in the US.

La Grange’s lawyer said he intends to engage with the process, without giving further comment.

The National Prosecuting Authority and Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation secured arrest warrants for Markus Jooste, the retailer’s former chief executive officer, and Grobler in March.

The two men were named as the lead suspects in Steinhoff’s 2017 collapse. 

Jooste allegedly took his own life on March 21 after being notified of the arrest warrants, the agencies said.

La Grange, 49, was fined R2 million by South Africa’s main stock exchange in 2022 for violating listing rules.

This primarily related to a handwritten document that was given to him by Jooste and from which La Grange was told to generate a €23.5 million ($25.1 million) invoice. 

While La Grange was not aware the income was false at the time, he didn’t use necessary due care and skill, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange said when levying the fine. 


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