The former directors of the South African furniture store company Steinhoff have for years exaggerated the profits of the company and are thus guilty of an accounting scandal of 6.5 billion euros, it was announced Friday.

Steinhoff has its registered office in the Netherlands and carries the Conforama budget furniture brand in Germany.

A small group of top managers and people from outside the company were involved in the fraud, according to an independent investigation by accountancy organization PwC.

The company recorded fabricated and irregular transactions with a total value of 6.5 million euros from 2009 to 2017.

Steinhoff has been embroiled in an accounting scandal since December 2017. The company ran into financial difficulties after it announced the accounting irregularities. The share fell sharply, so that many parties in the financial markets suffered substantial losses.