Steinhoff: Parly hears why the Hawks can't interrogate Jooste

The Hawks can’t interrogate former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste until Steinhoff submits a statement under oath supporting a report the company filed with the law enforcement agency, members of Parliament have heard.

Major-General Alfred Khana, head of the Hawks commercial crime unit, briefed four Parliamentary committees on Wednesday evening about the progress of the investigation into Steinhoff – which relies heavily on an outstanding statement from Steinhoff’s audit committee chair, Steve Booysen.

Khana explained that following a complaint laid with the enforcement agency for investigation, there needs to be a statement indicating exactly what was done, at what point, and who is suspected of involvement.

In January, Booysen had submitted a report to the Hawks under Section 34 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities. But the report did not include a complete statement under oath indicating exactly what went wrong and who was involved.

The Hawks subsequently met with Booysen - who was acting on behalf of Steinhoff - and Steinhoff’s attorneys, Werksmans, to get a full statement. Khana said that there had been three meetings with Booysen and two with Werksmans.

"In all of this, as we sit tonight, we are still waiting for the statement that would set out what went wrong," said Khana.

"I am not pointing fingers, but as the police, the statement will set the tone of our investigations - and we have not yet received the statement."

Standing Committee on Finance (SCOF) Chair Yunus Carrim asked Khana if the reason the Hawks could not approach Jooste was that there was not yet a statement under oath from Steinhoff.

To which Khana replied, "That is correct."

Carrim then inquired from Steinhoff why there had not been cooperation in this regard.

'Disheartening'

Chair of Steinhoff's Supervisory Board, Heather Sonn, said it was "disheartening" to hear the Hawks's dissatisfaction.

"We have put an incredible amount of energy and effort into this process to lead to one particular outcome - to provide sufficient information and evidence to the Hawks," she said.

Sonn said Booysen had stepped forward in the early days of the process to provide submissions, and made himself available to the Hawks. Steinhoff had a team working "tirelessly" on the matter, she said.

Having texted Booysen, Sonn said that in his reply via Whatsapp, he indicated he was not aware that the Hawks had been waiting for a statement from him.

Khana had also raised concerns about having access to PwC’s interim report, to support their investigation.

Khana explained that once the report was available, it would provide the context of what had happened at Steinhoff.

"The interim report should shed light on what happened and inform the statement of Booysen [regarding] what happened, and who did what to cause this to happen, but it is still nowhere to be found."

Sonn said the Hawks were able to access the information they needed from PwC for their investigation.

She said that as information was revealed by PwC, the company would take steps to address matters. For this reason, earlier in August, she had made a case based on one of the findings in the PwC report.

The Hawks were also looking into this case – which did, in fact, include a statement under oath from Sonn, Khana said.

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