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JOHANNESBURG - I was discussing the Steinhoff story with one of my colleagues outside our Cape Town office yesterday. I asked him to conduct an investigation on what triggered the Steinhoff crash.

As we were walking back to the office, a person called me by my name. I remembered him from years back when I was the stakeholder relations executive at Sekunjalo Investments. His name is James-Brent Styan.

I told him I was now the editor of Business Report, whereafter he invited me to his book launch, Steinhoff: Inside SA’s Biggest Ever Corporate Crash. What a coincidence.

Styan will officially launch his book tomorrow, in Stellenbosch, of course. “All Afrikaans copies are sold out in Stellenbosch,” he said.

He gave me some insight on Steinhoff and what the book is about.

On December 5, 2017, the Steinhoff group was still worth R193billion. A day later more than R117billion of this fortune was wiped out. The Steinhoff Empire, which took 50years to build into an international business giant, had crumbled overnight.

Markus Jooste, Steinhoff’s then chief executive, resigned via “SMS”, and has since been fleeing an avalanche of scandals and accusations, such as luxury homes for a blonde mistress, allegations of fraud, racing horses, and unparalleled extravagance, a lavish black Jaguar for an old university residence.

What exactly happened here? Who knew what? What is Steinhoff? Who is Markus Jooste, and what does it all have to do with the so-called Stellenbosch mafia? Where does business tycoon Christo Wiese, Shoprite and Pepkor fit in, and where is the pensioners’ money?

James unpacks these and other questions in this astounding tale of power and greed, of secrets and deceit, and ultimately one of the biggest financial breakdowns in the history of South Africa.

Through interviews with trustworthy sources, revelations from confidential documents and in-depth research about Steinhoff’s history, Styan uncovers what the group does not want you to know.

Steinhoff: Inside SA’s Biggest Ever Corporate Crash is a gripping financial thriller that will be told as cautionary tale or salacious scandal in both boardrooms and living rooms for decades to come.

James qualified as an accountant in 2003 and did his articles at an auditing firm before becoming a financial journalist. He currently works as a communications practitioner.

- BUSINESS REPORT