Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste has been fined R15 million and banned from serving as a director of a listed company for 20 years as his appeal against the JSE’s penalties was rejected.
Earlier this year, the JSE imposed a public censure and financial penalties against Jooste for his fraudulent and misleading actions during his tenure as Steinhoff CEO.
In short, the JSE found that Jooste had breached the bourse’s listing requirements in two ways.
Firstly, he had signed off on Steinhoff’s consolidated financial statements for the 2015 financial year and prior financial periods and the fifteen months ended 30 September 2016.
The JSE found that these statements did not comply with IFRS and the listing requirements and were incorrect, false and misleading.
Secondly, Jooste had been involved in a fraudulent transaction known as the ‘Steinhoff at Work Transaction’.
For these breaches, Jooste was fined R15 million and was disqualified from holding the office of a director or officer of a listed company for 20 years.
However, Jooste applied for a reconsideration of the JSE’s decision to the Financial Services Tribunal (FST) and asked for an order suspending the bourse’s decision.
On 10 January 2023, his suspension application was dismissed, other than in regard to the payment of the fine that the JSE imposed on Jooste, pending the outcome of the Reconsideration Application.
The Reconsideration Application was heard on 18 September 2023, and on 10 October, the FST dismissed it, confirming that the JSE’s decision was valid and enforceable.
“In the circumstances, the JSE’s decisions to impose a public censure and financial penalties against Jooste for contraventions of the JSE Listings Requirements remain binding and fully enforceable,” Steinhoff announced via a SENS announcement this morning.
Jooste is immediately liable for the payment of the financial penalties and disqualified from holding the office of a director or officer of a listed company for 20 years.
In 2021, Jooste, two former Steinhoff executives and a fourth accused were charged with balance sheet fraud carried out between July 2011 and January 2015, Bloomberg reported.
A litany of inflated profits and asset values later emerged, and Steinhoff has been forced to sell off a range of global retail assets to raise funds.
The company is set to delist from the JSE on Friday, 13 October.
The charges alleged that fake proceeds from bogus transactions were booked at some of the group’s units.
The deals made it seem that assets were sold to third parties while they were actually acquired by other companies close to the group.
Artificial transactions were allegedly used to manipulate balance sheets by more than €1.5 billion. In addition, the value of real estate assets was inflated by 820 million euros, prosecutors have said.
Markus Jooste is currently on trial in Germany, where he has claimed that there was no evidence he knew of the accounting irregularities at Steinhoff.
Steinhoff’s former European finance chief, Dirk Schreiber, was recently handed a 3-and-a-half-year jail sentence by a German court, making him the first top manager to be imprisoned over the Steinhoff scandal.