Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

Steinhoff legal head Stephan Grobler to plead not guilty

Markus Jooste’s co-accused appeared in court for the second time on Monday to apply for bail after handing himself over to police.

Steinhoff accused Stephan Grobler (64) plans to plead not guilty to charges of racketeering, three counts of fraud worth R21 billion, manipulation of financial statements and failure to report fraudulent activities.

The Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court granted Grobler, former company secretary and head of legal at Steinhoff, bail of R150 000.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said in a statement that Markus Jooste, who committed suicide on Thursday before he had to hand himself over to police to face the same charges, and Grobler allegedly conducted racketeering activities within the Steinhoff group, as certain executive employees captured it.

ALSO READ: Who will pay Markus Jooste’s R510 million penalties now?

It is also alleged that Jooste played a major role in the management of the criminal enterprise between 2014 and 2016, Lumka Mahanjana, the NPA’s regional spokesperson for the Gauteng division, says.

“In addition, it is alleged that Grobler created documentation of transactions that supported the fraudulent transactions used to inflate and falsify the annual financial statement of the Steinhoff Group.”

Steinhoff’s Grobler says he will prove his innocence

Grobler told the court in an affidavit that he intends to plead not guilty to the charges and will prove his innocence. He also asked the court to release him on bail, but the State opposed his bail application because Grobler committed a serious offence, which carries a penalty clause of R1 billion or a life sentence.

The prosecutor also told the court that Grobler is a flight risk because he is a citizen of the world with business connections all over the globe.

However, Magistrate Nicca Setshogoe granted him bail with conditions. Grobler has to report to the Brooklyn police station twice a week on Mondays and Fridays, hand over his two passports to the investigating officer, not apply for a new passport and hand over his two firearms to the police.

He is not allowed to leave Gauteng without informing the investigation officer and he must not interfere with state witnesses.

The case was postponed to 26 June 2024 for the investigation to be finalised.

According to an earlier statement from the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI) and the NPA, Jooste and Grobler were the lead suspects in the Steinhoff matter. The DPCI and NPA teams worked closely together in a complex prosecution guided collaboration that spanned multiple jurisdictions.

The defence teams of Jooste and Grobler were only told about the arrest warrants after the exit routes were secured to ensure that they did not flee the country. They had to hand themselves over at Pretoria Central Police Station and thereafter appear in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Friday.

After he was notified of the arrest warrant, Jooste shot himself in Hermanus. Grobler appeared in court alone on Friday.

NOW READ: Secrecy surrounded Jooste’s big FSCA fine and arrest warrant

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Markus Jooste Steinhoff

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