Disgraced former South African CEO grilled in Parliament

Johannesburg, South Africa (PANA) – Nine months after the biggest corporate scandal in South African history saw the global Steinhoff International group face collapse, its disgraced former CEO appeared in Parliament on Wednesday.

Markus Jooste who is one of Africa's richest people with an estimated worth of US$400 million led an international expansion programme with his South African-based company buying firms around the world.

However, his sudden resignation from Steinhoff on 5 December 2017 was followed by an involved and protracted controversy concerning Steinhoff's accounting practices in its European business.

The subsequent uncertainty saw some €10 billion euros of Steinhoff's value wiped off the markets in a matter of days. There were further losses as the situation unfolded.

The company subsequently admitted to "accounting irregularities" within the group while Jooste apologised for "big mistakes". As a result of Jooste's resignation, US$11.4 billion was wiped off the value of the global furniture and clothing retailer.

Yunus Carrim, the chairman of Parliament’s finance committee, told Jooste that his testimony is of national significance even though the hearing is not a trial.

"We want to see what the gaps are in legislation and what we can do to empower regulators. We are not here to secure guilt,” he said.

Jooste testified that a partnership with a European retailer dating back to 2007 resulted in litigation where allegations of tax planning misconduct were made against Steinhoff and this created financial flow problems. "I was not aware of any accounting irregularity in the books of Steinhoff," he said.

The hearing continues.
-0- PANA CU/MA 5Sept2018

05 september 2018 09:32:42

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