Hawks meet with Steinhoff leadership, but no charges yet against Markus Jooste

Johannesburg - Priority crime investigating unit the Hawks has met with Steinhoff leadership to discuss suspicions of fraud committed by the group's former CEO Markus Jooste, but no charges have yet been laid against the SA businessman. 

Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi told Fin24 on Wednesday morning that the directorate had met with the chairperson of Steinhoff’s audit committee and director Steve Booysen on Friday to discuss a Steinhoff document that outlined the firm's suspicions that Jooste had committed offences under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

“No charges [have] been laid, it’s just a report that they gave us…dockets have been opened which are still under investigation”, Mulaudzi said. 

The National Prosecuting Authority will need to conduct a preliminary investigation before anything further can take place.

On Tuesday last week, acting Steinhoff chairperson Heather Sonn told a joint sitting of three Parliamentary committees that the board has reported Jooste to the Hawks, but didn’t give any further details.

Sonn said the board had taken this decision after receiving a progress report from forensic auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

PwC were retained to conduct a forensic investigation into Steinhoff's books after the group's statutory auditors Deloitte flagged accounting irregularities in early December 2017. 

Steinhoff management has been unable to give a clear indication when they expect this work to wrap up.

Jooste resigned as CEO on December 5 after the accounting irregularities become known.

Since his resignation the Stellenbosch-headquartered retail giant's share price has plunged by over 80%, wiping out an estimated R200bn in shareholder value.

By 10:20 on Wednesday, Steinhoff shares were trading at R6.37. The shares closed trading on the JSE at R46.25 on the evening before Jooste's resignation was made public.

Jooste has not given any interviews since his resignation. He did not appear before a Parliamentary committee last week that heard evidence from other Steinhoff executives and board members.  

The Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission, meanwhile, has reportedly given the Steinhoff board six months from the start of February to identify who was behind the accounting irregularities and institute criminal action against them.

* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER

ZAR/USD
17.37
(+0.11)
ZAR/GBP
22.75
(+0.03)
ZAR/EUR
20.58
(+0.01)
ZAR/AUD
12.47
(-0.18)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(-0.21)
Gold
1943.12
(-0.70)
Silver
26.28
(-4.20)
Platinum
943.00
(-1.57)
Brent Crude
45.01
(-1.03)
Palladium
2108.00
(-2.80)
All Share
57077.48
(-0.60)
Top 40
52737.48
(-0.65)
Financial 15
10156.41
(-0.69)
Industrial 25
75107.47
(-0.84)
Resource 10
58926.78
(-0.40)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Do you think it was a good idea for the government to approach the IMF for a $4.3 billion loan to fight Covid-19?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes. We need the money.
11% - 1004 votes
It depends on how the funds are used.
74% - 6744 votes
No. We should have gotten the loan elsewhere.
15% - 1415 votes
Vote