The owner of the France-based Conforama furniture store chain and Pep clothing stores in Africa has appointed auditor PwC to probe the matter, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
South African billionaire and chairperson of the company, Christo Wiese, will run the company on a temporary basis.
The retailer, which has origins in South Africa, has a base in Amsterdam and a primary listing in Frankfurt, said on Monday it wasn’t able to release audited full-year financial results on Wednesday due to matters related to a criminal and tax investigation in Germany.
It had previously rejected allegations made in a Manager-Magazin report that Jooste is among employees being investigated by German prosecutors in a 2015 case linked to possible accounting fraud.
Steinhoff shares have slumped 18% over the past two days, the most since the Frankfurt listing in December 2015. The company has transformed itself in the past four years from a mostly African-focused retailer to an acquisitive powerhouse that now owns Mattress Firm in the US and Poundland in the UK.
Wiese is South Africa’s fourth-richest person with a net worth of $4.3bn (about R58bn), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.* SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE UPDATE: Get Fin24's top morning business news and opinions in your inbox.