Markus Jooste fined R15 million with 20 year ban

Markus Jooste

Johannesburg’s stock exchange plans to fine Steinhoff International’s former Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste R15 million for violating listing rules and submitting false financial statements.

According to a statement Tuesday, South Africa’s main stock exchange also barred Jooste from holding an office in a listed company for 20 years.

The move comes almost five years after the firm’s near collapse and is the second censure of a director at the company after former Chief Financial Officer Ben la Grange was fined R2 million.

Steinhoff lost 98% of its market value after auditors refused to sign off on financial statements in December 2017.

Forensic investigators from PwC later confirmed that 6.5 billion euros in fictitious or irregular income had been recorded at Steinhoff between 2009 and 2016, making it South Africa’s largest known fraud.

Jooste has told the JSE Ltd. that he doesn’t agree with its findings and on Dec. 14 approached the Financial Services Tribunal for an order suspending the JSE’s decisions. While the tribunal has dismissed Jooste application, the payment of the fines is still being reconsidered.

There are numerous investigations taking place around the world into Steinhoff, which owns Poundland in the UK and part of Mattress Firm in the US and had been Europe’s second-largest furniture retailer after Ikea.

Jooste is among four people who will go on trial in Germany next year on charges of accounting fraud.

A fine against Jooste by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority for insider trading was cut in December by almost 90% to R20 million.

The JSE said it will continue to oppose the reassessment application and awaits the tribunal’s decision over the fines it plans to impose.