Jooste won't appear before parly inquiry – report

Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste. (Forbes magazine)

Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste. (Forbes magazine)

Lawyers acting  on behalf of former Steinhoff chief executive officer Markus Jooste say he will not be appearing before Parliament to answer questions.

However, standing committee on finance chairperson Yunus Carrim says the committees will decide on Wednesday on whether or not Jooste should be subpoenaed to appear and account to Parliament.

Jooste had been invited to appear before a joint meeting on Wednesday of four committees, including those of finance and public accounts. According to an Eyewitness News (EWN) report on Tuesday, his lawyers claim that his appearance before the committees could potentially put his right to a fair trial in jeopardy.

The news that Steinhoff appeared to have cooked the books, which broke in early December, has resulted in pension funds and bondholders losing billions of rands. But the most affected parties, including asset managers and lenders, are waiting for more information before possibly seeking restitution.

After a long silence over the saga, which cost investors R200-billion after reports of alleged fraud emerged, investigators are now kicking up the dust.

In a letter to the committees, Jooste’s lawyers say he has already been summoned to be interrogated by the Financial Services Board and is also the subject of a Hawks probe.
They also say because Jooste resigned as the global retailer’s CEO in December, he is “not in a position to meaningfully assist the committee”.

The Hawks are investigating and are bringing in Interpol, the Financial Services Board (FSB) has three investigations underway and the Reserve Bank is looking at whether exchange control laws were breached.

The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) told a parliamentary hearing that it had lost more than R20-billion because of the Steinhoff collapse.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more details emerge.

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