Parliament confirms subpoena served on Markus Jooste to testify next week

Parliament’s spokesperson Moloto Mothapo told Fin24 on Thursday afternoon that the subpoenas have been served on both former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste and ex-CFO Ben la Grange’s legal advisers to appear before a Parliamentary committee.

“They were issued on the 18th. We can only say there has been a confirmation of receipt from both of their lawyers. That is all that we can say at this point,” said Mothapo.

The hearing is scheduled to take place on Wednesday next week. 

Jooste, who abruptly resigned as the head of the global furniture and retail conglomerate in December 2017 after auditors flagged accounting irregularities in its books, has not since spoken publicly about what transpired at Steinhoff. The Stellenbosch-headquartered group's share price has plunged by over 95% since he stepped down. 

He is also being investigated by priority crime investigating unit the Hawks, and may be the subject of a separate ongoing German police investigation.

Jooste did not appear at previous Parliamentary hearings, where other top Steinhoff officials gave evidence, including former chairperson Christo Wiese and current chair Heather Sonn.

Members of Parliament's oversight committee on finance want to speak to him and La Grange about "institutional flaws and challenges existing in [SA's] financial regulatory framework" and other reasons which may have caused the "Steinhoff debacle", Parliament said in an earlier media statement. 

Perhaps pre-empting a response from Jooste’s legal team that he cannot give evidence while he is being investigated by police, Parliament noted that the committee’s inquiry was “not a criminal investigation establishing criminal liability, nor is it a civil inquiry establishing civil liability of Steinhoff or its employees”.

Bloomberg, meanwhile, reported earlier in the week that Steinhoff had suspended La Grange, together with and ex-director Stehan Grobler. 

While both La Grange and Grobler stepped down from their roles earlier this year, they remained on short-term consultancy deals, Steinhoff said in an emailed response to Bloomberg questions on Tuesday.

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