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Steinhoff mastermind Markus Jooste reportedly commits suicide shortly after R475m fine

Steinhoff mastermind Markus Jooste reportedly commits suicide shortly after R475m fine
Markus Jooste, CEO of Steinhoff, August 2008. (Photo: Gallo Images / Financial Mail / Jeremy Glyn)

Disgraced former chief executive of Steinhoff Markus Jooste has reportedly shot himself just more than 24 hours after the Financial Sector Conduct Authority revealed that it was fining him a whopping R475-million and that it planned to pursue a criminal case.

Police were investigating the death of former Steinhoff boss Markus Jooste on Thursday night following reports that he had shot himself at his Hermanus property.

Lieutenant Malcolm Pojie of  SAPS confirmed to Daily Maverick early on Thursday evening that the Hermanus police opened an inquest docket after they responded to a shooting incident at about 14.40pm on Thursday afternoon at Kwaaiwater beach in Hermanus. The 63-year old man sustained a gun shot wound to the head and and succumbed to his injuries shortly after arrival at a private hospital.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Le Roux, Mbikiwa, Trengove: NPA’s A-team was ready to charge Markus Jooste

The SAPS confirmed they responded after the shooting. Jooste is said to have walked out of his house, stood in front of a neighbour’s home on or close to the beach and shot himself there. Emergency services found him lying partially on the cliff path. It was not immediately clear where Jooste shot himself, or to whom the weapon belonged.

An eyewitness said the incident happened outside his home. Emergency personnel had been called to the scene, attached drips with fluid and carried Jooste with a heavily bandaged head on a stretcher to an ambulance, the witness said. 

The nature of the charges against Jooste were not known at this stage, but a source said they related to alleged crimes committed at Steinhoff.

His death comes a day after he was informed that he had to pay a R475-million administrative penalty to the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) on or before Friday, 19 April 2024 – giving him a month to come up with the funds.

Until his death, the former Stellies Old Boy was stoic, maintaining in recent interviews with the FSCA that he was “unaware” of any financial irregularities.

Although Jooste attended FSCA interviews under notice and on dates arranged with his lawyers, his responses to most questions were not actual answers to the questions.

“He persisted that there were no financial irregularities that he was aware of or participated in. To that extent, he complied with the notice to attend, but failed to provide all answers and information relevant to the investigation in a cooperative manner,” the FSCA said in its signed penalty order. 

The R475-million fine was for issuing false or deceptive statements about Steinhoff International Holdings Limited and Steinhoff International Holdings NV, which Jooste knew or ought reasonably to have known were false, misleading or deceptive. This included the omission of material facts. 

Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste appears before several committees in Parliament on 5 September 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. Jooste made his first official public appearance since his abrupt resignation in December over accounting irregularities at Steinhoff. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

The FSCA also revealed that it had waived any fines against Steinhoff’s former European finance chief, Dirk Schreiber, in return for his cooperation, which infers that he revealed incriminating information. Schreiber has already been sentenced to a three-and-a-half-year jail term by German authorities. 

The Steinhoff documents that were specifically related to the R475-million fine were Steinhoff’s annual financial statements and annual reports for the 2014 to 2016 financial years and for the 2017 half year.

The Steinhoff International securities were listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (now the JSE) and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange during this period. It is worth noting that between 2014 to 2017, Jooste earned more than R651-million from Steinhoff International alone.

The FSCA noted in the court order that he received income from other sources during this time, but failed to disclose that income despite being asked to do so. 

In the years before December 2017, when Steinhoff spectacularly imploded, the company and Jooste were the darlings of the JSE. 

Jooste had developed a near-mythical reputation of a seminal businessman with the Midas touch. The company listed in Germany and the Netherlands, and the Public Investment Corporation poured billions of rands into acquiring Steinhoff shares, funded by the Government Employees’ Pension Fund money. 

But it was a mirage.

Jooste did make some excellent business decisions, but bought just as many lemons.

Jooste and a number of Steinhoff managers stand accused of artificially inflating profits while pulling a blanket over the money-losing business decisions – all the while moving billions of rands out of South Africa.

Epic self-dealing and related party loans exacerbated the ever-growing black hole in the company’s finances. All the while engaging in a dizzying flurry of cross-border transactions. By December 2017, the game was up. 

Jooste has suffered a series of blows since then.

Government authorities, both local and international, have been closing in on his assets, his digital communication and all linked money flows. 

Up to this point, none was so efficient as the South African Reserve Bank. 

Extensive, multiyear investigations came to a head in October 2022 when the SA Reserve Bank attached all assets they could link to Jooste.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Disgraced, Departed: The Financial Sector Conduct Authority case against Markus Jooste

SA Reserve Bank investigators claimed Jooste was involved in at least R4.836-billion worth of questionable cross-border money flows and said he was in contravention of the country’s Exchange Control Regulations. 

The SA Reserve Bank took control of Lanzerac Wine Estate in Stellenbosch despite Jooste’s attempts to build layers between him and the ostensible ownership of the estate. The SA Reserve Bank also seized four pieces of land linked to the boutique winery Klein Gustrouw in Stellenbosch, the content of Jooste’s large Hermanus compound in Voëlklip, the house where he reportedly shot himself, the Jooste family’s Silver Oak Trust, and five cars registered to his wife and chauffeur. 

The SA Reserve Bank also seized cellphones and other digital devices.

Jooste is suspected to have been central to coercive attempts to cajole former SA Reserve Bank divisional head at the FinSurv department Raymond Paola to allegedly sign off on a large number of unlawful cross-border transactions, Scorpio revealed on 12 March this year .

This led to the freezing of R5.5-billion of Steinhoff’s funds in the company’s local bank accounts in the middle of 2023DM

A guide to the Steinhoff scandal

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Johan Buys says:

    This may be callous in regard his family but basically he took the bullet for half a dozen of his crooked co-conspirators.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Any potential investor that looked at cash flow instead of reported IFRS whatever numbers and still invested was a fool or was advised by a fool.

    This scam was apparent back in 2014 for anybody to see if they applied half a brain cell.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      And yet some of the biggest brains in South Africa and Germany fell for it, hook, line and sinker? Methinks you’re overegging this one!

      • craig white says:

        All stock transactions are gambling …… I mean for example , buying coming stocks with a 25-30 PE …… less return than Money in the bank , so the pressure is on company’s to dress everything up with smoke and mirrors

  • Craig Nuttley says:

    Greed is a destructive thing

  • Lebitsi Leburu says:

    The fruits of greed.

  • Pierre Strydom says:

    Hopefully he is on the way to a place much hotter than the one he comes from.

  • Matthew Quinton says:

    “Committed suicide”

    Really? It’s kind of weird how after all this time, police arrive at his house… then he runs and “shoot himself” in the head on a sea side cliff.

    It seems more likely that he would have fought on in court while enjoying his lifestyle as long as possible.

    Also, with the new formation of MK, surely he could have just gone into politics?

    • M E says:

      Read the article again Matthew. He shot himself well before medical services arrived. Police came after that. So yes, the man did commit suicide with nobody around him.

  • Aadil L says:

    I am cynical, so I want the media need to see incontrovertible proof that he’s dead. Think Thabo Bester taking his death.

    This doos got off easy.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Are we sure he has actually ended his life and hasn’t just joined the Guptas in Dubai? When you play with smoke and mirrors as he appeared to do whilst with Steinhoff, anything is possible! Money like he apparently accumulated could buy some very powerful friends!

    • Grumpy Old Man says:

      I have it on good authority (from a friend of mine and a flat earth society member in good standing) that Mr Jooste was spirited out of the country by a Columbian drug cartel and is living it up large with Pablo Escobar and Elvis Presley in Graceland. My friend says he has seen pics of the three of them chugging pink champagne inside of the Jungle room. So, no, I don’t think he is in Dubai with the Guptas!

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    The end of the road for Jooste was looming. Signed his own guilty verdict.

  • Marianne Kuttel says:

    Just wondering where the penalty funds will end up if recovered from his estate. Repayriated to the GEPF, the people and institutions he stole from? Nah… probably end up with the ever greedy, trough feeding cadres.

    • Craig A says:

      It goes straight to the FSCA’s bank account. They don’t pay it back to the people who lost money. So they take money that was illegally stolen. What does this make them? No better than the crooks. They recently fined someone over a billion for running an illegal Ponzi scheme. No funds going back to the investors. Sickening!!

  • Phil Baker says:

    Interesting he got a 475Mill fine and all the Zondo accused have been fined nothing – so far – for the billions they looted and stashed offshore – some even set up their own political parties!

  • Solas Machipa says:

    The people who used him to move our country money overseas killed him because he was going to be a liability. It’s those who own the country, the president and the likes of Motsepe. I wish they start killing the black billionaires before we do.

  • Philip Machanick says:

    Has Donald Trump been informed of this option?

  • Daniel Mah says:

    Men like Jooste they do not go down that easily, they fight till the end. Not convinced he shot himself

  • Mendo Gampu says:

    It’s now crying over spilled water its over for him let him go!

  • ST ST says:

    “The SAPS confirmed they responded after the shooting. Jooste is said to have walked out of his house, stood in front of a neighbour’s home on or close to the beach and shot himself there. ….An eyewitness said the incident happened outside his home.” DM

    Understandable we live in a confusing world. The Thabo Besters are not helping. But I’m wondering if this is how conspiracy theories begin or it just seems incomprehensible the he did this to himself. All of it.

    Even the western media can’t seem to bring themselves to call it suicide. Although it probably sells more to call it ‘gunshot’ which is technically true. But maybe it just had a better ring as it goes all along with the well publicised gun crime issue is SA

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