Markus Jooste among those named in fraud report

Disgraced former top racehorse owner Markus Jooste is in more trouble after the release of an 11-page summary of audit firm PwC’s 3,000-page report on its probe into alleged fraud that led to the collapse of South African public company Steinhoff’s share price in December 2017, immediately after Jooste resigned as chief executive.

PwC (Pricewaterhouse Coopers) calculated that Steinhoff’s profits were inflated by some €6.5 billion between 2009 and 2017. Neither PwC or Steinhoff would release the names of those they held responsible when the summary was released at the end of last week but on Tuesday the South African parliament ordered Steinhoff’s present chief executive, Louis du Preez, to reveal the names.

Jooste, former chief financial officer Ben la Grange and six others were named.

Jooste, South Africa’s leading racehorse owner for ten straight seasons until 2017, had conveyed a confident and convincing impression when he appeared before a televised parliamentary committee to explain his side of the story in early September.

But now the mood has changed. According to the local Eyewitness News: “Members of Parliament want Jooste prosecuted for his role in the country’s biggest corporate scandal and for him and his associates to be jailed as soon as possible.”

Pension funds, notably one which provides for government workers, have suffered major losses with the collapse of the Steinhoff share price and MPs feel they are being frustrated by the apparent slow progress of the Hawks, the specialist criminal police responsible for investigating financial fraud.

Again according to the Eyewitness News, Parliamentary Finance Committee chairman Yunus Carrim said that Jooste is a free man living in the opulent holiday town of Hermanus and added: “There he is walking up and down, while we get accosted in the corridors and everywhere with people asking, ‘What is happening?’ as if we are the police.”

Jooste has not been seen on a South African racecourse since his shock resignation and over the subsequent 12 months he steadily sold off his huge string of racehorses. His absence from the country’s yearling sales has had a significant effect on prices.

In recent seasons he had extended his overseas bloodstock interests to a number of different countries, notably Germany, France and Ireland, where he was part-owner of a number of horses at Ballydoyle.