Jooste estate under threat: FSCA to recover R475 million penalty

Disgraced former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste has died. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

Disgraced former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste has died. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

Published Mar 23, 2024


Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste’s death will not deter the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) from recovering the R475 million penalty imposed on him.

And just a day after Jooste, 63, shot himself in the head at the beach near his upmarket estate in Hermanus, another Steinhoff executive, Stephanus Grobler, was arrested and appeared in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court.

Cosatu has also appealed to authorities to ensure justice for the victims who lost their pension funds worth billions, that were invested in Steinhoff, amid the ongoing investigations into alleged fraud committed by the group’s executives.

The FSCA said its probe would continue as there were other parties involved.

“The authority will also continue to assist the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) with any investigations they may have under way,” it said.

The financial body further said the R475m penalty was imposed in Jooste’s personal capacity and could be recovered from his estate.

“As the penalty on the late Mr Jooste was in his personal capacity and already imposed at the time of his death, his passing does not impact on the penalty. The FSCA is legally entitled to recover the penalty from the estate of the late Mr Jooste.

“Whether the authority will claim against the estate will be decided at the appropriate time, taking into account all the relevant circumstances.”

The former chief executive of Steinhoff, Markus Jooste. Picture Armand Hough/Independent

Recounting the death of Jooste, police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm Pojie said Hermanus SAPS has now opened an inquest docket for further investigation.

Police were activated to attend to a shooting incident at about 2.40pm at Kwaaiwater Beach in Hermanus. The deceased succumbed to a fatal gunshot wound to the head shortly after arrival at a private hospital. (The) investigation is ongoing,” said Pojie.

The FSCA issued the R475m penalty on Jooste, on Wednesday, following an investigation into Jooste and Dirk Schreiber, which found that the two made or published false, misleading, or deceptive statements about Steinhoff International Holdings Ltd and Steinhoff International Holdings NV, which they knew or ought reasonably to have known were false, misleading, or deceptive.

The FSCA found that by doing so, the two contravened the Financial Markets Act. According to findings, the actions by Jooste saw Steinhoff International’s market cap decrease by 91% in December 2017 resulting in billions of rand in losses for investors.

The judgment labels Jooste as the mastermind and outlines that in the period 2014 to 2017 his total salary was more than R710m.

“His remuneration was linked to the company’s overall performance and was inflated by the overstated false, misleading and deceptive annual results. He also benefited from the increases in Steinhoff International share values as he received share incentives and dividends over the years,” the judgment read.

It also stated that the JSE found that Jooste had failed to comply with the list requirements as prescribed by it.

Cosatu spokesperson Matthew Parks said while they wished Jooste’s mourning family well, they expected the investigations to continue.

“The federation expects the relevant government institutions to continue to pursue those involved in the Steinhoff heist where billions of rands of workers’ pension funds were looted.

“These include charging and prosecuting those implicated at any level and the recovery of assets and the proceeds of the crimes.”

He said the FSCA must ensure the R475m penalty sanctioned on Jooste is collected from assets in his name or that he may have hidden under other guises.

“Steinhoff marked a low point in SA’s decade of state capture and corruption. Workers lost billions. They have been denied justice for far too long.

“It is critical that the NPA, Hawks and the judiciary pursue justice to the end. We cannot accept any let up in this battle to cleanse South Africa of this cancer,” said Parks.

Born in Cape Town in 1961, Jooste rose through the ranks of the business world with a combination of sharp intelligence, undeniable charisma and an ambitious vision for the future.

His early career was marked by significant achievements in the South African corporate sector, leading him to the pinnacle of his profession as the CEO of Steinhoff International, a global retail conglomerate with operations across Europe, Africa and Australasia.

According to sources, Jooste had been informed by the Hawks on Wednesday that he would have to hand himself over to the police by today, along with Steinhoff’s former company secretary and head of legal, Grobler.

Before its liquidation in October last year, Steinhoff demanded that Grobler pay back close to R300m in salaries, bonuses and incentives.

The multinational furniture retail giant was rocked by South Africa’s biggest accounting scandal in 2017, with audit firm Deloitte confirming the accounting irregularities.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo said along with the NPA they had secured warrants of arrest for Grobler and Jooste. She said that they were expected to hand themselves over to police yesterday.

“After being notified of the arrest warrants, Jooste allegedly committed suicide. Grobler appeared in court this morning (yesterday).”

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