“The timing of the loan application is highly suspicious and smacks of insider trading,” Fedusa said in a statement on Friday. “There is absolutely no way that Steinhoff top executives, including Van der Merwe, could not have full knowledge of what was going on, on the eve of the share collapse”.
Steinhoff said earlier that the November 29 loan taken out by Van der Merwe’s personal investment company from Investec plc had been repaid. It’s standard practice for lenders to accept personal assets as security for loans and the transactions have no implications for the company, a Steinhoff spokeswoman said.
Steinhoff reported accounting irregularities on December 5, causing the shares to crash more than 80% in three days. Van der Merwe was promoted from chief operating officer to acting CEO on December 19.