A lot is being said about the implosion of the international Steinhoff empire. Is it not

ironical that the country that gave birth to some of the most advanced thinking in

governance, ethics and corporate conduct should be fingered in its own back yard as the

perpetrators of one of the largest exposures of corporate sculduggery and executive


The question is: is it not absolutely appropriate that such an event should have its

roots in this lovely land of ours? The extent of this event is jaw-dropping! And the

most absorbing part of the whole thing is that an entire board of directors, comprising

some of the finest (supposedly) financial and corporate governance gurus on the planet

have been exposed as a bunch of incompetent fools?

Yes! A small group of unknown equity analysts were able to piece together a number

of seriously disturbing issues from the published financial statements. The Board

appeared to have missed it, notwithstanding they were privy to far more information.

Of all the exposures floating around on this saga this to me is the biggest issue on the


Something is seriously wrong. The system has failed us all. That’s it. No more and no


Never before in the entire history of business practice has there been so many checks

and balances, so much disclosure, so many regulations and statements, so much control

and governance. And this happens.

The bottom line?

It is all one huge charade. And underneath all this is the fundamental issue of values

and ethics.

Let’s leave the bigger players out, the ones who seem to been blatantly fraudulent in

their conduct. That’s not the issue – fraud will never go away. The human condition is

plagued by greed and no doubt it will always rear its ugly head.

What’s on the table here is ethics. More specifically work ethics. How can this

‘esteemed’ Board ever claim that it did the work it was contracted to do? How can these

individuals have taken remuneration for their half-hearted, lackadaisical and shoddy

performance? These are our captains of industry, the people we expect to take their

responsibilities seriously especially considering the gigantic salaries and fees they

claim. These are the people that have a fiduciary duty to protect our interests as

shareholders (I have personally beed affected by this!).

What a disgrace. What a blatant exposure of corporate excesses at its very worst.

Shame on all of them.

And worst of all, the CA(SA) brand has been trashed. How many of these senior

executives and other persons were registered with SAICA? An inordinate amount. And

the auditing profession has a lot to answer for. Shame on us all.

You might challenge my professional conduct by accusing me of running down

fellow colleagues. I don’t care! Somebody has to say this. This must be exposed for

what it is and you can be absolutely sure that I will shouting from the tops of the

mountains, NOT IN MY NAME!