Business Maverick

STEINHOFF FALLOUT

Reserve Bank seizes R60m assets from Berdine Odendaal, leaving her in the cold

Reserve Bank seizes R60m assets from Berdine Odendaal, leaving her in the cold
Illustrative image: Markus Jooste and Berdine Odendaal. (Photos: Supplied)

About a month after the death by suicide of her lover, Markus Jooste, Berdine Odendaal’s assets were seized by the South African Reserve Bank under the Exchange Control Regulations as per the Currency and Exchanges Act.

A notice published in the Government Gazette last week and signed off on 16 April, indicated that the following assets were to be forfeited to the state:

  • R12.4-million in Odendaal’s Absa bank account.
  • R26.6-million from a second Absa bank account.
  • R1.1-million from a Capitec bank account.
  • R998,015.80 from a second Capitec account.
  • R1.1-million from a Standard Bank account.
  • Her property at Val de Vie, valued at R18-million.

The money will be deposited in the National Revenue Fund. The assets listed above add up to a cumulative R60-million. This is roughly the same amount transferred to Odendaal via Jooste’s Mayfair Speculators between 2011 and 2015.

After the Reserve Bank froze her assets in April 2021, Odendaal applied to the court for an order allowing her to receive a monthly allowance. When asked to provide a breakdown of her fixed monthly expenses, reasonable living expenses and legal costs, she came up with the princely sum of R150,000 a month.

From July 2021 to March 2022, she received R150,000 a month or a total of R1.35-million. She had also already received funds of more than R1.7-million from a Nedbank account, which was depleted.

If you are found guilty of breaching exchange control regulations, the Reserve Bank can seize assets of a value equal to the violations. The assets are then forfeited to the state. The alternative is a jail term of five years.

Dhahini Naidu, a director at Fairbridges Wertheim Becker attorneys, says the significant aspect here is the regulatory provision that allows for the forfeiture of assets without the prerequisite of a conviction, thereby fast-tracking the process of asset recovery.

“This action is not just about penalising the wrongdoers but also about redirecting the ill-gotten gains towards the public treasury, which can then be used for national development. This serves a dual purpose: it acts as a deterrent against corporate fraud and aids in the economic restitution to the state, which might have been undermined by such fraudulent activities,” she says.

The actions taken in the Steinhoff case reflect a broader regulatory and legal shift towards greater accountability and transparency in corporate South Africa. Naidu observes that the case is likely to influence future legal strategies and corporate policies, stressing the importance of ethical management and the severe repercussions of its breach.

“The asset forfeiture in the Steinhoff scandal is an important event in South African legal practice, illustrating the vigorous application of laws designed to combat financial crimes. This not only reaffirms the strength of the South African legal system in dealing with complex corporate fraud but also sets a precedent for how similar cases might be handled in the future, potentially altering the landscape of corporate governance and legal recourse in South Africa,” she said.  DM

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  • Lyle Ferrett says:

    How often does the SARB freeze the bank accounts of crony politicians?

    • Johann Olivier says:

      My VERY first thought, Mr. Ferrett. SARB very quick to jump on a cheap, easy mark. Not that it shouldn’t be done. Her ill-gotten gains should be forfeit, but compared to many (most?), this forfeiture is chump change.

  • Thanks for a very informative article! 👍

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Double standards here as usual. If only the same swift action and determination was implemented on the multitude of the connected thieves/cadres of the vile anc and eff. These despicable scum are all free, enjoying the fruits of their theft and giving the citizens of this country the middle finger.

    • Byron Pieters says:

      Yup, so true. Where are the Guptas, why couldn’t their cash be forfeited?

      • Jennifer D says:

        What about Ramaphosa’s illegal deposit in his couch? Why hasn’t that been taken to help with redirection of ill gotten gains to the public treasury?

    • Graham Swan says:

      Hear, Hear….but they the criminal cadres will NEVER be successfully (or PROPERLY prosecuted)…..BECAUSE CRIMINAL PROTECT CRIMINALS…..and when the entire (or almost all of) the TOP structures running the country are the biggest criminals……they will PROTECT their criminal cadres at ALL COSTS

    • Moraig Peden says:

      What a lot of “what aboutism” in the responses! Well done to authorities for recouping this money.

      • Brian H says:

        There may be “what aboutism” in the responses, but it’s a justified response…. People want fairness across the board – for politicians and citizens to be treated equally. In SA this is certainly not the case. No-one is saying that Berdine Odendaal’s assets should not be seized – we just want our thieving politicians to receive the same treatment.

    • Geoff Coles says:

      It’s different, she is white and a mistress and obviously not a ANC supporter, even if she lived of the spoils of corruption

    • TP Mudau says:

      I agree. Also banks are quick to close and banking facilities to some for “reputational risk reasons” yet her accounts were still active. She was linked to Marus Jooste, what more do you need?

      • Middle aged Mike says:

        Jacob Zuma, Julius Malema and countless other luminaries of the progressive movement have plump accounts at local banks despite their somewhat opaque sources of extravagant wealth. What do you ascribe that to?

  • James Baxter says:

    Why are business people dealt with harshly. And politicians who steal so brutally and disturbingly. I don’t mean that all political leaders and public servants steal. There are a few of them, you can even count them with one hand, who still abide by the Principle of Thomas Sankara, Oliver Tambo and Desmond Tutu. But private sector business people, who are white are severely punished to such an extent that one of them decided to end his life. I am a black boy, by the way and I stay in township. I am not a Sandton boy, no. But white business people are dealt with ruthlessly and rightly so if they do wrong, but politicians and public servants from 94 till today have stolen close to one trillion rand. But not even one of them has been arrested apart from Tony Yengeni. Tony Yengeni is probably a university case study on how on God’s Earth did this guy become the only politician to see jail time since the dawn of democracy. University students are probably scratching their heads trying to understand why did Tony Bambino go to the slammer. Maybe it’s because his name is Tony, and Tony is a very suspicious name, maybe the judge watched a lot of Sopranos, and saw that Tony Bambino was a suspicious character in that particular series

    • G O says:

      Well said except that the amount that has been stolen largely by connected cadres is in fact way in excess of R2 trillion.

      • James Baxter says:

        What saddens me is that our political leaders and public servants are doing more damage to the long term viability of our country. And yet the judiciary is not acting decisively on this issue of endemic corruption. Not all political leaders and public servants are corrupt, but the majority of those who are corrupt are doing more damage than Steinhoff will ever commit. I can even go further and accuse the judiciary of being a corrupt component of this rot that as befallen SA. Granted, corruption is a function of society’s level of development or lack thereof, but development and corruption are mutually exclusive

  • Chris Corns says:

    Would be nice to witness some forfeiture of ANC politicians assets.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    Good to see this. Would be even gooder if I they also went after the stars of the Zondo commission and their beneficiaries. Vain hope I guess given that our president’s couch full of dollars was signed off as exchange control A-OK by the same crowd.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Get real Moraig! It seems you are happy to see billions of our tax money stolen by the very people who are in charge and who should be serving the country with honesty and integrity instead of zero accountability and zero consequences!

  • Anthony Krijger says:

    And the Gupta’s & Zuma’s and Mgashule’s and the others had their accounts frozen? They were able to get away with trillions of dollars that would certainly have benefitted “national development”?
    This does lead one to the question of National Develpment. Would these funds simply be used to recyle and reward cadres who ccan continue to thieve?

  • Rae Earl says:

    The pig syndrome from ‘Animal Farm’ rears its ugly head once again. Comrades and cadres are ‘more equal’ than Berdine Odendaal who deserves what she gets, ie. Forfeiture of assets that were stolen from many, many, pensioners by her scummy boy friend. Meanwhile the pigs enjoy their spoils uninterrupted. FFS.

  • Colin Tossel says:

    This is funny…..used for national development.

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    I would say that the right thing is for more judges, prosecutors, investigating officers and all other people needed to execute prosecutions far faster than it is now must be appointed, even building more court rooms if needed, so that the prosecutions can be completed within months, not decades. Justice delayed is STILL justice denied. For the verdict to come within months will be a far, far better deterrent than victimizing the accused without having been found guilty; THAT probably causes more apprehension towards the system than anything else.

  • John Patson says:

    Presumably the SA Reserve Bank will see the state redistributes the funds to Mayfair Speculators shareholders.
    If not, she seems to have a good case to argue the money was seized from her wrongly.
    Given the speed of the courts, that should lock the cash up for years, probably until the weak rand turns it into Monopoly money.

  • Conrad Kemp says:

    Well done. It took seven years of complex investigation across two continents. A bit irritated by the Daily Maverick readership whose only response always seems to be ‘what about?’ followed by non-specific anger directed broadly at the ANC. Could it be that Berdine Odendaal reminds them in some ways (?) of themselves and heaven forbid accountability that impacts their worldview?

    • Middle aged Mike says:

      Could it be that you are ok with comrades who gorge at the public trough because of your world view?

      • Conrad Kemp says:

        Never said I was okay with graft or corruption anywhere. I believe in accountability right down to the person who drives while using their phone.

        It’s just remarkable to me as I read the DM how the same commentators regularly seem unsettled by justice meted out in the corporate world and see it as some sort of double standard. A failure to properly hold politicians to account is infuriating. But that does not mean we should seem irked by stories like this just because Berdine isn’t a politician from the ruling party or other parties we mistrust.

        • Middle aged Mike says:

          If you actively protect and reward the thieves in your party despite screeds of evidence in the public domain of their looting of the coffers of state while pursuing people who don’t meet the criteria for untouchability that’s a fairly easily identifiable worked example of double standards. Not a single commenter here has suggested that Joostes tart shouldn’t be the subject of the states attentions. You made that up. What everyone else can see for some reason is that her treatment makes the absolute absence of the same for the great and the good of the ANC all the more obvious. That you read into it what you describe suggests that you are inferring all sorts of isms motivating the commentators and for that there isn’t a shred of evidence. I have an open bet with a friend of mine who sounds a bit like you. I have to give him a case of 10 year old Laphroaig if a single member of the NEC has spent a year in jail by the time dollar couch guy finishes his next term. If not I get one from him. He’s looking a great deal less confident that he was when everyone was getting all swoony over the new dawn and all the dot joining that was the rage back then.

    • Wilhelm van Rooyen says:

      no Conrad, Berdine Odendaal got what was deserved, and no complaints about that. but I think what’s good for the goose, should be good for the gander. Don’t you?

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      Yes, for some it might be kneejerk whataboutism, but at the same time — this indicates a demonstrable ability to act decisively in confiscating the proceeds of wrongdoing, so it then begs the question: Why is this ability not used more often?

  • Notinmyname Fang says:

    Finally, finally

  • Craig A says:

    This was quite a speedy recovery of funds by our ‘efficient’ Reserve Bank. I wonder if the ANC is in dire need of funds for the upcoming election? Just a coincidence perhaps?
    I wonder what the salaries and bonuses at the National Revenue Fund look like. I am sure they are mind-boggling.

  • Rama Chandra says:

    While the assets may have been laundered, how did they breach exchange control regulations? The assets were manifestly in the country and therefore not taken abroad.

  • Maurice M says:

    Good job! Her money was proceed of crimes. People should learn from that!

  • Elise Levendal says:

    I particularly liked the last paragraph, well done to the Reserve Bank and to DM for a thought provoking article.

  • What about some of this money that has been siezed going back to the people who lost up to half their pension. Instead it ends up being taken by the next big corporate and ends up being used by the government to put it back into the next corrupt official.

  • Ron Ron says:

    What about her fair trial? It is a Constitutional right after all (s. 35(3)). Yes, I presume that she is probably the beneficiary of some nefarious dealing by Jooste, but that is not the point. I get very twitchy when bureaucrats arrogate to themselves the right to bypass the courts and trample on Constitutional rights of citizens. There’s a Gulfstream jet ZS-VIP sitting at Lanseria which was grabbed from an alleged criminal, it was probably worth something like R200 million when seized, 4 years later it is standing unloved in the open and is worth next to nothing. How is this justice to anyone?

    • Greeff Kotzé says:

      Yes, I’m surprised that so few of the comments are focusing on this. It does say “found guilty of breaching […] regulations” and also that “the alternative is a jail term of five years”, but then also states that it is “without the prerequisite of a conviction”, which really needs some clarification.

      The reader is left to wonder by what process and at the hands of which authority does this guilty finding occur, if not a criminal court? Is there any part of the process that at least needs to be confirmed in a civil court? And is the implication here really that people may be jailed for half a decade without the option of a trial?

  • Nick Griffon says:

    Does the SARB expects a pat on the back here?
    I wonder why it takes so long to freeze the assets of State Capture criminals?
    Double standards

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Low hanging fruit folks…low hanging fruit!

  • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

    I don’t support crime but why didn’t the same happen to the Guptas?

  • I think it fair for the bank to forfeit her R60m odd as this money was recivered from crime

  • Charlie Umann says:

    The asset forfeiture is just and a “living allowance” of R150 000 p/m is laughable.

    I unfortunately realise we have two states being governed in South Africa. The one is where the laws of the land are enforced towards private individuals, such as your average middle-class taxpayer. I am not referring to Odendaal btw as she was literally in bed with crime. The point being that private individuals get prosecuted/fined/sentenced/repossed etc. And you seldomly, if ever see the same laws applied towards the inner circle of green, yellow and black.

    The other state is the Land of the ANC who uphold the law towards their people according to their values. They simply do not get jail time. Civil servants simply do not end up in jail as private citizens do.

    If voter turnout would be about 10 million it means, theoretically-speaking one vote equals about 4-6 votes, out of a total voter base of about 45-50 million, excluding children.

    Hopefully we’re edging ever closer in rooting out the rot of corruption in the private as well as public sector.

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