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

EDINBURGH — It seems like yesterday that Steinhoff was a stock market darling and its former CEO Markus Jooste and chairman Christo Wiese were revered among investment analysts. The multinational retailer with roots in South Africa had been growing rapidly and exponentially on the back of an aggressive international acquisition trail. In late 2017, that picture changed quickly, as Jooste announced his resignation amid news that the German authorities were investigating irregular financial activity. The Steinhoff share price plummeted and the company has been teetering on the brink of collapse ever since. Steinhoff was a staple in stock market portfolios as well as retirement and other investment funds, which means its troubles have affected many South Africans who have savings that include a weighting in domestic equities. It has turned out that the German authorities were right to pick up the whiff of irregularities, with information spilling out into the public domain daily about how corporate crooks enrich themselves. Many South Africans are calling for justice as the Steinhoff scandal has yet to claim a scalp. – Jackie Cameron

By Thulasizwe Sithole

There are two sets of rogues that South Africans are desperate to see behind bars: Zuma and his acolytes, for decimating the wealth of the nation; and the Steinhoff bosses who enriched themselves at the expense of investors and savers.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and team have rolled up their sleeves to start bringing to book corrupt politicians. Meanwhile, South Africans are making an ever-louder noise about the Steinhoff corporate crooks who engaged in high level accounting creativity to siphon funds out of the multinational and play games to boost the Steinhoff share price.

“Send them to jail,” is the overwhelming message from commentators on editorial coverage on the BizNews website and social media platforms about perpetrators of fraud within Steinhoff.

Responding to the 11-page summary of PwC’s 3,000 page report into Steinhoff, which appeared to be a corporate Ponzi scheme, was Shaun Edmeston, who was among the first to urge, on Alec Hogg’s Facebook page: ‘Put them in jail’.

Not content with the idea simply of prison time for Markus Jooste and is friends is Whatdoyknow, who said, on BizNews, “First drain them of all the money they have and then jail them for life!”

“Yes!!” said Tokoloshe Nkosi, who added that he hopes they all go to jail.

Con Jooste also wants to see more punishment for Jooste and friends, saying: “Unfortunately they are not pretty enough to become some tough gangsta’s “babydoll”..😂😁”

It’s a mystery to many that the wheels of justice are turning so slowly for these suited thieves.

Baasted_123 said: “How none of them are in jail yet is beyond me. Surely there is enough evidence there to lock them up on even a small charge and then investigate more and slowly pile on more and more charges??

“Our prosecutors are trying to trial them for the entire thing in one big case and that is too complex and will take too long.

“Get them on something small… get them in jail, then work to add more charges until they spend at least 25 years behind bars,” added baasted_123.

Andrew James reckons he saw Jooste and his wife at the weekend, enjoying the sea air in the Western Cape. He said: “I walked past him on the cliff paths in Hermanus on Sunday. He was with his wife and another couple. All looked very happy.”

Cosmik Debris, evidently appalled that Jooste is enjoying his freedom, asked Andrew James: “Were you tempted to give him a push?”

The PwC report indicates that shenanigans started at least 10 years ago by Jooste’s instruction to invent €326m in “profit” through a shell created to “buy” fictitious services from the group.

Mulling the details over, Jeremy Nel remarked: “Orange may become very fashionable….

Ian Jayes is also disgusted with the Stellenbosch mafia clique around Jooste. He said: “You would be lucky to get an ounce of morality out of all of them combined. Why have they not been arrested?”

But, for other onlookers, it is a case of Jooste and his pals are innocent until they have been given the opportunity to answer to charges in a court hearing.

Said V_3: “By the benchmarks laid down by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, none of them have been found guilty in a court of law so it would be OK if they are still serving on company boards.

“Interesting to know who hit government pensions in the PIC hardest: Steinhoff, Surve or Guptas,” remarked V_3.

Have your say! Join the debate on Alec Hogg’s Facebook page.