🔒 Rob Rose: Pushing corporate SA into more transparency, starting with Steinhoff

Disgraced Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste was never a Rob Rose fan. For years, the investigative journalist was on Jooste’s case, going back to a 2011 investigation into Jooste by SA Revenue Services. He wisely questioned where others merely accepted. So when the ponzi scheme blew up, Rose went even deeper into the Steinhoff muck, delivering his best-selling Steinheist book even before the company’s own forensic report was concluded by a 100-person team at PwC. Rose filled in much of the jigsaw puzzle, but was appalled that the bulk of what was uncovered by PwC was not disclosed. Steinhoff’s board only released an 11 page summary, keeping the meat of the biggest corporate fraud in SA history under wraps. Immediately after PwC’s report was concluded in March last year, the Financial Mail launched a legal challenge to get the full document into the public domain. Steinhoff responded in court last week. In the latest episode of Rational Radio, Rose provides an update on the process, explaining why the court action matters so much. – Alec Hogg

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Forensic investigators into the Steinhoff scandal have shared eleven pages of damning evidence about fictitious and irregular transactions – but they are keeping 13,000 more pages for themselves, claiming that this information must be kept secret because they are pursuing individual legal claims.

But Rob Rose, editor of the Financial Mail and best-selling author of Steinheist, doesn’t buy the rationale for failing to put the full report in the public domain – and neither does BizNews founder Alec Hogg.

In this podcast, Rose and Hogg dissect the investigation that saw PwC put about 100 investigators on the case to uncover about R106bn in irregular transactions.

Individuals with pension funds that bought Steinhoff have a right to know, says Rose, whose publication is taking legal action to make the PwC report public.

Read also: Steinhoff’s corporate crooks: South Africa chants ‘Send them to jail!’

Rose says it’s not just the shareholders who should have this information. It is in the interests of improving business sentiment for the documents to be shared. “You have a public that has been affected quite badly – not just Steinhoff, but perceptions of corporate sector… so far greater impact than just on Steinhoff,” he says of a scandal that saw the Steinhoff share price collapse.

Rose also discusses Martin Levick from Genesis Capital, who allegedly ripped off investors in Israel, London and Australia – including investment heavyweight Anthony Ball, who co-founded Brait.

“When you get beguiled by people like this [Levick] you feel embarrassed and shame, and you have to trust people in business, yet people get caught,” says Rose of how Ball must feel about being hoodwinked by a smooth operator like Levick.

“Investors you’d think are smart businessmen who should know better, but they put money into scams,” says Rose of how even the smartest in the investment world can be taken in.

Allegations about Levick include that he swindled Ball of millions in a fake deal involving an artwork by famous British street artist Banksy, according to TimesLive.