Steinhoff International Holdings NV’s former CEO Markus Jooste advised friends to sell the retailer’s shares days before the stock collapsed, according to a mobile phone text message reportedly seen by Bloomberg. The message, sent on or about 30 November 2017 to at least two people, told recipients there was unspecified bad news coming, notes the Bloomberg report in Business Day.

At the time, Steinhoff was in discussions with Deloitte about the viability of its accounts.

On 5 December, the company said it had uncovered accounting irregularities and that Jooste had quit, causing the shares to plunge 63% in a single session.

SA’s financial regulator has been made aware of the message, two people familiar with the situation said. Steinhoff declined to comment.

Speaking to lawmakers in Cape Town last month, Jooste (57) said he wasn’t aware of any financial irregularities on the day he resigned. The company is being sued by investors including billionaire ex-chair Christo Wiese, and is being investigated by regulators in Europe and SA.

Steinhoff has acknowledged the lawsuits and investigations.

Full report in Business Day