/ 21 March 2024

Steinhoff’s Markus Jooste dead, allegedly by suicide

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Markus Jooste. File photo

Former Steinhoff chief executive Markus Jooste allegedly shot himself on a beach in the Western Cape on Thursday.

Newzroom Afrika earlier reported that Jooste had died by suicide as confirmed by a source “close to the investigation” involving Jooste’s alleged financial crimes at Steinhoff International Holdings and Steinhoff International.

Western Cape police spokesperson Andrè Traut told the Mail & Guardian on Thursday night: “Unfortunately I cannot confirm any identities today but what I can confirm is that a death inquest docket for a 63-year-old man who died at a Hermanus beach has been opened.”

He said the inquest docket had been registered at Hermanus police station this afternoon.

“It is alleged that the victim sustained a gunshot wound at around 15:20 at Kwaaiwater and succumbed to death on his way to hospital. No foul play is suspected at this stage. The circumstances surrounding his death are being investigated. The identity of the victim is not disclosed until his next of kin has been officially notified,” Traut said.

This comes after the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) announced on Wednesday that it had slapped Jooste with a R475 million fine and that it was referring the Steinhoff International Holdings investigation to the National Prosecuting Authority and the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (the Hawks) for a criminal investigation. 

It said a lengthy investigation “running into hundreds of pages” had found that Jooste and his former European financial director, Dirk Schreiber, had contravened section 81 of the Financial Markets Act.

The financial watchdog said on Wednesday that it had gathered enough evidence to prove that Jooste and Screiber had cooked the books by making “false and misleading statements” to restate the business’s equity by at least R38 billion.

The FSCA commissioner said the “deception” of the senior executives regarding the true value of Steinhoff was “wholly unacceptable” and that it had cost creditors and investors, including pension funds, losses running into hundreds of billions of rands in misplaced investments in the business, while also undermining the stability of financial markets.

Schreiber is serving a two and a half year prison sentence in Germany after a court there found him guilty of accounting violations and aiding credit fraud. 

Germany issued an arrest warrant for Jooste after he was charged in the same case but failed to arrive in court to face trial. 

Schreiber escaped an administrative penalty after entering into a leniency agreement with the financial watchdog.

The FSCA said the investigation into the business’s dealings is ongoing and also extends to other individuals, who it has not yet named.