Steinhoff submitted 'malicious' report to Hawks

Markus Jooste has refused to appear at the parliamentary hearing (Financial Mail)

Markus Jooste has refused to appear at the parliamentary hearing (Financial Mail)

The report Steinhoff provided to the Hawks was “malicious” as it contained no information, the Hawks’ head of commercial crime unit major-general Alfred Khana told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday.

He said a day before Steinhoff’s board appeared before Parliament on January 31, they provided a report to the Hawks.

“It is another malicious report to the extent that there is nothing in the report,” said Khana. “It doesn’t even say who did what.”

He said there is nothing they can do with the report. He said he wrote to Steinhoff’s chairperson [Heather Sonn], but he is waiting to hear back from her, as she is overseas.

When Steinhoff’s board appeared before Parliament in late January, Sonn told MPs that Steinhoff had reported its former CEO Markus Jooste to the Hawks on suspicion that he had committed offences under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

At the time she said the retail giant took the decision after it received an update on the status of an independent forensic investigation into its books being undertaken by PwC.

This investigation is still on-going. Sonn did not, at the time of her January appearance, provide further information.

When the Steinhoff scandal broke towards the end of last year, Scopa chairperson Themba Godi wrote to the Hawks because, as he then stated, “here we are saddled with the biggest corruption in the history of our country”. 

He asked what the Hawks are doing regarding the matter.

“We’re not going to let that one fade,” said Godi.

Khana said they picked up the Steinhoff matter from media reports.

They learned that there is a class action court case against Steinhoff in the Netherlands and a private prosecuting in Germany, and they have engaged with them. They have also engaged with Interpol.

At the January 31 meeting, Steinhoff told the joint committees that it has reported its former CEO Markus Jooste to the Hawks, on suspicion that he had committed offences under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. 

Jooste abruptly stepped down as the conglomerate’s CEO in early December 2017 amid an accounting scandal. He has not spoken to the media since and refused to appear at the parliamentary hearing.

At the same meeting, former board chairperson Christo Wiese alleged that the global furniture conglomerate’s problems came as “bolt out of the blue” to him.

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