“The downgrade of Steinhoff’s ratings and review for further downgrade reflect the uncertainties and implications for the company’s liquidity and debt capital structure arising from an announcement… that new information has come to light which relates to accounting irregularities,” Moody’s said.

“Given that allegations of accounting irregularities were raised and rebutted in August 2017 and again in November 2017, it calls into question the quality of oversight and governance at Steinhoff.”

Steinhoff said earlier this week its CEO Markus Jooste had resigned and that it had asked for an investigation into the discrepancies, triggering a heavy sell-off in its shares.

On Thursday, the firm said it had received expressions of interest in non-core assets which would release a minimum of €1 billion of liquidity.

READ MORE: Steinhoff accounting irregularities trigger share crash, CEO exit

Its subsidiary, Steinhoff Africa Retail Limited, would also commit to refinancing its long-term liabilities due to the company, adding further liquidity of about €2 billion.

South Africa’s Public Servants Association (PSA), which represents more than 230 000 members of the Government Employees’ Pension Fund, said it was investigating suggestions that the fund may have lost about R12,5 billion through investments in Steinhoff.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Thursday he supported a decision by the Financial Services Board to institute an independent investigation into possible false and misleading reports, in addition to an internal investigation by the JSE into accounting irregularities at Steinhoff.

African News Agency