Why Steinhoff skelm Markus Jooste, former CEO, is a free man – NPA. #2020 in review

Markus Jooste, the former CEO of Steinhoff, walked away from the company as a financial scandal erupted three years ago. In June this year, Bloomberg reported Steinhoff International Holdings NV was paying for forensic auditors at PwC to help South African anti-corruption police investigate alleged financial wrongdoing that brought the retailer to the brink of collapse. “While PwC completed its own more than 3,000-page probe on behalf of Steinhoff last year, legal authorities have shown little sign of progress in identifying those responsible for transactions that caused Steinhoff to report accounting regularities in late 2017,” it said at the time. In October Jooste was fined by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority more than R162 million for insider trading. He sent a text message to four people warning them to sell their stock in the Steinhoff. Police are reportedly investigating moneylaundering allegations against Jooste. But he continues to enjoy his freedom. Jooste denies wrongdoing. In this interview, veteran broadcaster Tim Modise puts the National Prosecuting Authority on the spot. – Editor

In the BizNews year in review series, we take a look at the big stories of 2020.

Steinhoff scandal: Why Markus Jooste still roams free – NPA. LISTEN

In 2017, an accounting scandal erupted at South African multinational Steinhoff. As the German authorities uncovered a number of financial irregularities, Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste jumped ship. Steinhoff’s demise meant that a number of wealthy investors, including billionaire Christo Wiese, felt the devastating effects of its share price drop. Understandably, South Africans have been calling for Jooste to be brought to justice. In his weekly webinar, BizNews colleague Tim Modise asked National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Sipho Ngwema when we can expect to see results. – Claire Badenhorst

The Steinhoff scandal has SA crying out for Markus Jooste to be arrested. Tim Modise asks NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema when we can expect to see results.

TM: What is the progress regarding Markus Jooste and the Steinhoff matter?

In the Steinhoff matter, first of all, we had to make sure that we get the auditor’s on board because they’ve been working on the matter for the past two years. And two, because this is a transnational matter as well, it’s very complicated, it’s very big and it involves many other countries. So, we are now directing the forensic investigation in order to make sure that it meets the standards from a criminal prosecution and a criminal investigation point of view.

So, that investigation is continuing. We are working with the auditors.

Also read: Steinhoff offers to pay R16,5bn for claims in settlement proposal

As you know, there was an offer made by the company, which we accepted as law enforcement so that has helped us as well. We have also tried to make sure there is no influence and there are enough safeguards for us to continue with the investigation and not to compromise it in case there are other conflicting issues that may arise. Given the fact that the company is a complainant, it may happen in the future that probably there also can be suspects in the matter that we’re investigating. So, that investigation is proceeding and we’re hoping that we will be able to finish it and be able to take action on those people that are implicated.

One of the reasons why we were able to take the decisions that we are able to take is because the people implicated have left the company and the shareholders are the complainants. Therefore, we are moving together with the Hawks to try and make sure that we finish the investigation and we are able to take action at the time that we have to take action.

Also read: SA corruption: no action following theft of R500bn during Zuma’s rule

You can listen to the entire webinar here.