Friday, 29 March, 2024

Close this search box.

Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste Passes Away

Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste Passes Away

In an announcement on Thursday, authorities in South Africa disclosed the unfortunate demise of a 63-year-old individual, a case believed to be a suicide. This person was subsequently identified by various local news outlets as Markus Jooste, the ex-CEO of the international retail giant, Steinhoff.

Jooste, renowned for his pivotal role in elevating Steinhoff from a modest furniture store in Johannesburg to a global retail powerhouse, faced a severe legal penalty on Wednesday due to allegations of accounting fraud.

Read also: Cash in Transit Heist Suspects Killed in Dramatic Shootout

The law enforcement officials have opened an inquest into the death of the 63-year-old, without officially confirming his identity.

“It is alleged that the victim sustained a gunshot wound at around 1520 (local time) at Kwaaiwater and succumbed to death on his way to hospital,”

stated Colonel Andre Traut, a spokesperson for the Western Cape police, referencing an incident in a suburb of Hermanus, a picturesque coastal town near Cape Town. Colonel Traut further elaborated that the ongoing investigation aims to unravel the specifics of the incident, with current evidence suggesting no interference by external parties.

While the circumstances surrounding Jooste’s death are currently under investigation by the authorities, reports have emerged suggesting that Jooste ended his own life last Thursday.

This somber news follows the Financial Sector Conduct Authority’s (FSCA) decision to levy a R475 million fine against Jooste. The penalty was issued after it was discovered that he played a part in disseminating financial statements about the company that were misleading or deceptive.

The scandal that shook Steinhoff to its core emerged in 2017 when Deloitte, the audit firm, unveiled accounting discrepancies.

In a recent development, Jooste contested a R15 million fine imposed by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), a challenge that was sustained by the Financial Services Tribunal last October.

The JSE had issued a “public censure and the maximum allowable fine of R7,500,000” due to inaccuracies in Steinhoff’s consolidated financial statements for 2015 and earlier periods, including the 15 months up to September 30, 2016. These statements were found to be non-compliant with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the Listings Requirements, being “incorrect, false, and misleading in material respects.”

Additionally, Jooste was publicly censured and fined another R7,500,000 for violating listing requirements through the “Steinhoff at Work” transaction.

Last year, Jooste also faced legal action from abroad as a German court issued an arrest warrant against him, Bloomberg reported.

Born in 1961 in Cape Town, Jooste ascended the corporate ladder, propelled by his keen intellect, engaging charm, and a visionary outlook on the future. His early career was distinguished by notable accomplishments in South Africa’s corporate landscape, eventually leading him to helm Steinhoff International, a retail giant with a presence in Europe, Africa, and Australasia.

By 2016, Jooste, also a fervent horse breeder, was recognized as one of Africa’s wealthiest individuals with an estimated net worth of $400 million, according to Wikipedia.

Under his guidance, Steinhoff saw unparalleled growth, broadening its reach through bold acquisitions and diversification. Jooste’s knack for integrating various corporate cultures into the Steinhoff model was seen as a hallmark of his managerial prowess.

However, December 2017 marked a pivotal moment in Jooste’s career as allegations of financial misconduct surfaced, prompting his immediate resignation. The scandal erased billions from Steinhoff’s market valuation and triggered a series of regulatory investigations globally, drawing parallels to the infamous Enron scandal in terms of magnitude and implications.

The fallout from the scandal, which saw Steinhoff’s market value plummet by around R160 billion in just a week, underscored critical weaknesses in corporate governance and financial regulation.

In the aftermath, Jooste’s life was overshadowed by legal controversies, intense public scrutiny, and the dismantling of his previously sterling reputation. He stood accused of masterminding a sophisticated scheme to overstate profits and asset values, becoming emblematic of the broader discourse on corporate morality, accountability, and the dangers of unbridled ambition.

See below a timeline of events from Markus Jooste’s involvement in the Steinhoff fraud to the present.

Year Event
2015 Allegations of accounting irregularities at Steinhoff first surface.
December 5, 2017 Markus Jooste resigns as CEO of Steinhoff International amid accounting scandal revelations.
2018 Investigations by regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies into Steinhoff’s accounting practices intensify.
2019 Steinhoff reaches a settlement with creditors to restructure and repay debt.
2020 Steinhoff agrees to a massive settlement to resolve lawsuits filed by shareholders affected by the scandal.
2021 German prosecutors charge Markus Jooste with accounting fraud.
2022 Steinhoff announces a settlement agreement with claimants in the 2017 accounting scandal, pending legal approvals.
Early 2023 Markus Jooste is fined for his role in the Steinhoff accounting fraud.

Related Articles