Markus Jooste takes his own life after a huge fine

Henry

The police started an inquest after Markus Jooste, former CEO of Steinhoff, took his own life.

Jooste (63) shot himself on Thursday afternoon at Kwaaiwater in Hermanus near his home in VoĆ«lklip. “He succumbed to a gunshot wound to the head shortly after his arrival at a private hospital,” Lt. Col. Police spokesman Malcolm Pojie said.

This comes a day after the Financial Conduct Authority (FSCA) fined Jooste R475 million and amid reports that he would hand himself over to the Falcons.

Jooste had until April 19 to pay the fine. A criminal case on the issue has also already been filed.

The fine of R20 million for insider trading, previously imposed on Jooste by the FSCA, also had to be paid. Jooste challenged this fine in the High Court.

A huge scandal hit Steinhoff in 2017 when the company was investigated for alleged fraud and gaps of up to R101 billion were found in its accounts. The company, based in South Africa, was listed in Frankfurt and Johannesburg and almost 98% of its share value was wiped out after dozens of court cases were filed by shareholders and business partners, including the former chairman, Christo Wiese.

After a long investigation, the FSCA said on Wednesday that it found that Jooste and Steinhoff’s former European CFO, Dirk Schreiber, was responsible for publishing fraudulent statements about Steinhoff International’s financial position between 2014 and 2017.

This meant that investors were basing their decisions on false information. This led to losses of billions of rands, including by pension funds. Almost R200 billion worth of pension fund money and other investments were wiped out as investors realized the company’s financial statements had been manipulated.

A German court sentenced Schreiber to three and a half years in prison. A Regional Court in Oldenburg, Germany, issued a warrant of arrest against Jooste in June last year after he did not show up for the fraud hearing.

The Reserve Bank also froze Jooste’s assets.

Jooste resigned from Steinhoff at the end of 2017.