CAPE TOWN - It became very clear that Markus Jooste blamed the strategic partnership with Dr Andreas Seifert for the probe into Steinhoff.
This was confirmed during the testimony of the company's former chief executive on Wednesday in Parliament.
Jooste gave a detailed account of Steinhoff's partnership with Dr Seifert. The memorandum of understanding was signed in 2007.
According to Jooste, Dr Seifert owned a massive retail chain in Germany and Austria and additionally a number of small Eastern European companies
In 2007 Steinhoff owned a significant investment in Poco so companies merged in a 50/50 venture.
In later years the venture moved and grew to other areas and in 2011 the parties bought Conforama though Seifert did not have the full 50 percent for the acquisition.
Despite the lack of funds, Jooste did not see this as a red flag but saw Seifert's lack of fluidity as a cash-flow problem and not an integrity issue.
Jooste then testified that Seifert then decided to push for the Kika/Leiner acquisition, Kika/Leiner was Seifert's biggest competitor.
This 'push' led to a number of red flags and caused a massive fallout in late 2014.
Steinhoff's relationship with Seifert was terminated in January 2015 and then litigation began against the Steinhoff as the company was accused of having accounting irregularities.
Jooste said that he knows of one case in Vienna that is still open. According to the former chief executive, a shortfall that is still owed to Seifert (through the Conforama acquisition) is currently being disputed.
MPs were told by Jooste that Seifert perhaps had no intentions to pay for any of the acquisitions.
– BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE