It’s been five years since the Steinhoff scandal broke. Corruption Watch (CW) was one of many who condemned the financial irregularities which resulted in the South African multinational retail holding company overstating its assets and profits by nearly $12-billion. Since that time the calls for justice and consequences have not let up, especially those targeted at Steinhoff’s former CEO Markus Jooste.
Jooste, said to be the mastermind of the massive fraud, resigned in December 2017 but has been a free man since. The former CEO has, to date, only been found guilty of insider trading in Steinhoff’s shares. He was slapped with a R162-million fine in October 2020 by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, which he appealed. As of May 2022 the fine was still under discussion. Now, though, the net might finally be closing on him.
On 18 October a team of South African Reserve Bank officials arrived at two of Jooste’s high-profile properties – the wine farm Lanzerac and his house in Hermanus – to seize them.
The seizure followed an attachment order to that effect, granted on 6 October by the Western Cape High Court. The order specifies various fixed and moveable items to be attached, including the two properties, the Jooste family’s Silveroak Trust, valuable pieces of art and luxury cars, jewellery, firearms and more, as well as physical and electronic books and documents, especially those relating to business matters. The total value is said to be as much as R4.8-billion.
Michael Jooste (Markus’ son), Gary Harlow, and Adriaan du Plessis are the first, second and third respondents. The trio are joint Silveroak trustees. Jooste and his wife Ingrid are the fourth and fifth respondents, while Lanzerac Estate Investments, the Cape Town Registrar of Deeds, and Petrus Venter are the sixth, seventh and eighth respondents.
The Reserve Bank is involved because Jooste is also accused of having violated South Africa’s exchange control regulations, in that the permission he received from it to transfer money overseas for business development and restructuring there, was based on fraudulent information.
Read a detailed analysis of the case and the attachments, on Daily Maverick.