BLSA’s Bonang Mohale: For business’s sake, put Steinhoff fraudsters in jail

LONDON — Having engaged for years with the organisation now known as Business Leadership SA, its new CEO Bonang Mohale feels like the Mother City’s South Easter. For years, SA Big Business has been too diplomatic, slow to react and careful not to cause offense. But just like the famous Cape Doctor, Mohale is blowing away that legacy, using every opportunity to attack the pestilence of crime and corruption wherever its ugly face is exposed in the SA business sector. His statement this evening on Steinhoff is consistent with this theme. Mohale wants to see fraud-committing executives in orange jumpsuits and urges law enforcement authorities to exercise “the full might of the law” against them. South Africa desperately needs a business sector that will do whatever it takes to operate with integrity, and be seen to be doing so. Mohale “gets” that. And knows that without a clean business sector, SA’s battle against unemployment is stillborn. – Alec Hogg

From Business Leadership South Africa:

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) is deeply disturbed about allegations of accounting irregularities and fraud at Steinhoff.

The allegations around Steinhoff raise serious concerns about the management of that entity and negatively impact South Africa’s reputation as a good place to work and do business. But the allegations should also not be allowed to tarnish the image of the hundreds of well-run and globally respected South African companies.

A Steinhoff International Holdings NV logo sits on display outside the company’s offices in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

BLSA expects all companies to be held to high corporate governance standards since these contribute to the establishment of South Africa as a place which investors can trust. When boards, management structures, accounting firms, and lawyers that advise companies fail to perform to these standards, they should be held accountable.

We know that law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies will conduct thorough investigations into the issues around Steinhoff and, if found guilty, we expect all those responsible to face the full might of the law.

BLSA reiterates that the allegations against Steinhoff are worrying. The overwhelming majority of South African businesses are run and managed by honest and hardworking leaders who share the values that are contained in the Integrity Pledge that BLSA members have committed to.

Bonang Mohale, CEO, BLSA

The Integrity Pledge sets out clear expectations of what BLSA, shareholders and society in general expect from the business community. Companies have a responsibility to a broad range of stakeholders and when they fall short, the consequences can be far reaching.

We have made it clear that a failure of corporate governance, instances of fraud, corruption and unethical behaviour will not be tolerated. Anyone who breaks the law should be prosecuted, and that includes all business people.

“Business has a critical role to play in helping build the country of which we are all proud and that works for all its citizens.  Any business conduct that undermines society’s trust in Business cannot be tolerated and must be censured in the strongest terms. The tone is set at the top and the public is entitled to look to leading companies to observe the highest standards. BLSA will not hesitate to distance itself from businesses that behave in a manner that is inconsistent with the Integrity Pledge,” said Bonang Mohale, CEO of BLSA.

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