September 18, 2017 / 8:07 AM / a year ago

Steinhoff says former JV partner takes dispute to Dutch court

FRANKFURT, Sept 18 (Reuters) - A former joint venture partner of Steinhoff has asked a Dutch court to order an investigation into the South African group’s annual accounts, which Steinhoff said it expected to be dismissed.

The petition by OM Handels GmbH and MW Handels GmbH (OM & MW), owned by the former joint venture partner, comes after German prosecutors said last month they were investigating four current and former executives of Steinhoff for suspected accounting fraud.

Steinhoff, Europe’s second-largest furniture retailer after IKEA, said in a statement on Monday the petition by OM & MW related to a joint investment that was eventually consolidated by Steinhoff in its books.

“Steinhoff has appointed legal and external audit firms in Germany to investigate the matter independently. They have concluded that no evidence exists of any wrongdoing,” Steinhoff said.

Chief Executive Markus Jooste said in the statement that allegations brought against Steinhoff were “unfounded” and the group’s 2016 annual accounts were correct.

The Enterprise Chamber of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal has scheduled a hearing for Thursday. (Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Mark Potter)

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