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One year on and Steinhoff’s Jooste is still left in peace

Ex-CEO living a life of relative normality, for now.

It’s exactly a year since Markus Jooste quit as chief executive officer of Steinhoff International at the start of an unfolding accounting scandal and share-price collapse. Yet so far, the 57-year-old South African has been largely left in peace.

While many of his former colleagues have battled investors, bankers and regulators around the clock to keep the global retailer afloat, Jooste has led the mostly quiet existence of a retired multimillionaire. He’s made only one public appearance in an official capacity — to face questions in parliament in September about his role in the crisis — before retreating back into a life of relative normality.

That may change in the next few weeks, with a long-awaited forensic report into Steinhoff’s finances due to be completed. Auditors at PwC are expected to describe a series of third-party transactions and inflated asset valuations at the heart of the retailer’s collapse, and, as the CEO who presided over the alleged financial wrongdoing, Jooste’s name is likely to feature. That could trigger a series of moves against the ex-CEO, as out-of-pocket investors and law enforcement agencies look for someone to hold responsible.

The following account of Jooste’s movements over the past year is based on numerous interviews over several months with people linked to him who requested anonymity discussing private matters. Jooste and his lawyer, Callie Albertyn, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Abusive graffiti

There are signs that Jooste is already wary of the prospect of a return to the spotlight. The curtains and blinds of his 21 345 square-foot property in the whale-watching town of Hermanus, part of it bought for R11 million in 2005, are firmly drawn. Abusive graffiti has been sprayed on the walls — and has been only crudely painted over.

Elsewhere in Hermanus, which is about a 90 minute drive down the coast from Cape Town, a 54 013-square feet plot bought by Jooste for R36.5 million lies desolate. Development of the property, in a spectacular location with endless ocean and mountain views, was abandoned after Jooste’s wealth declined by at least R3 billion in the wake of Steinhoff’s collapse. Even so, local residents still have to contend with the plot’s high walls that block access for people who like to walk along the cliffs and beaches.

Not far away in Stellenbosch, where Steinhoff has its head offices, Jooste shares a farm surrounded by mountains and vineyards. The area has been home to at least four former Steinhoff directors and associates.

One of his neighbors there is Jannie Mouton, the founder of investment firm PSG Group and previously a non-executive director of Steinhoff. Having once produced wines together on a non-commercial basis, Mouton has changed the labels on all the bottles bearing Jooste’s name. The two restaurants that carry stock do the same, according to a source familiar with the businessman’s activities.

Jooste can be seen every few weeks at the Vasco da Gama Taverna, a little Portuguese pub in Cape Town, which has a wide array of beers on tap and items like spicy Trinchado on the menu. And in Hermanus, he’s said to be a regular at Burgundy Restaurant, an eatery offering seafood and fine wine along with ocean views.

Bubbling in the background isn’t only the looming PwC report, but a summons by prosecutors in the Netherlands. Allegations of numerous related-party transactions have surfaced. Former chairman Christo Wiese is suing Steinhoff for R59 billion, while other investors have hit Steinhoff with class action lawsuits.

All are preparing their next move.

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P

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The hysteria to “have Jooste arrested and incarcerated” is uncalled for.
He has not yet been found to have transgressed any criminal laws.
Many rumours around as to what he did and did not do, but these are mainly civil law matters that does not allow for being put in jail – yet.
He seems to have done some really bad things to investors – bordering (at this stage) on criminal stuff – but no need – yet – for arrest.
Jooste’s day will come – soon, I hope!
There are many others to be joined in the actions – Wiese is one of them as he is certainly not the VICTIM he and his PR people want us to believe.
Talk about criminals walking free – focus on VBS scandal – – that was blatant criminal action with zero consequences at this stage.

The real issue with Steinhoff is that people have little to no confidence in our justice system. There have been far too few if any concrete investigations into the fraudulent conduct of many of the board members and management in SA companies. Money talks and the wealthy walk. As far as VBS is concerned. The losses were less than 10 percent of the losses sustained at Steinhoff. Political it may be but the real criminals are sitting in boardrooms in this country. Many of them should be behind bars. My personal opinion on Jooste is he could not and did not act alone. The investigation needs to encompass many other people particularly those who have made a career of stealing from poor people such as pensioners.

Couldn’t have said it better….

Jooste knew what he was getting himself into , when business tycoons go beyond a threshold of wealth they think they are untouchable , its been well documented before. However there are business moguls out there that are really completely and utterly above board and do not have any corrupt and fraudulent agendas.
This forensic investigation cannot be dragged out , I realize it is a hectic case with vast financial records that need analyzing and it will take time to get through to compile the extent of the fraud and how it was actually done.
Look at the Simon Nash case ! , as guilty as sin but walking free after how many years?
It makes you wonder just how “connected” these perpetrators are to key figures in the justice system!
I for one have no faith in the SA Justice system aswell as certain individuals in certain auditing firms.

You obviously never bought Steinhoff shares. I put my full faith in Marcus Joosta and Christo Wiese. i bought and held when the shares fell. What have the two done to make us feel that he wasn’t to blame. Did he try to defend himself ….NO. He just kept quiet. I defended both of them but now realize they are guilty.

Let it be stated again……….

There is enough creditable information in the public domain as to the wrongdoing that there should have been arrests already made. Why has such not be done? The PWC Report is not the “holy grail”…. it will be “tainted” to protect certain current execs who where present during the 2014 – 2017 period.

This is not a simple matter of theft, a proper investigation is required so that a charge sheet has the required substance for a successful trial. Being rushed and not going about this in the right way may cause Jooste (who is very clever and has the best lawyers at hand) to walk away scott free. In addition most of this happened in Europe, you don’t trust the speediness of the European justice system? Be patient and let this matter run its course.

Too big to jail

no different from a host of crooks that delay justice for decades, aided by a stream of lawyers that would use any tactic in the book whether defending Hitler or Mother Theresa

But, at the end of the day, the big effect on big egos is that everybody now knows Jooste is a crook and always was. So does his family. He knows everybody knows and that hurts people like that. What his accomplices need to fear is that there is no honor amongst thieves. He can take down another twenty big boys that currently still have intact reputations

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