German arrest warrant issued for former Steinhoff CEO
The prosecution had requested the arrest warrant back in April when Jooste did not show up for the trial.
The company’s former CEO, Markus Jooste, has a warrant of arrest issued for him in Germany. Picture: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach
Failing to appear for his trial in Germany, prominent South African businessman and the former chief executive officer of the embattled retail giant, Steinhoff International Holdings NV, Markus Jooste now has a warrant of arrest to his name.
The warrant was issued by the Regional Court of Oldenburg about two weeks ago.
The prosecution had requested the arrest warrant back in April when Jooste did not show up for the trial in the city of Oldenburg.
Jooste’s lawyer, Bernd Gross, had informed the court at that time that his client Jooste was facing more significant investigations and allegations in South Africa than in Germany and had encountered a number of passport-related issues under an arrangement with South African authorities which prevented him from travelling.
Jooste’s abrupt resignation from Steinhoff on 5 December 2017, triggered a complex and protracted controversy surrounding the company’s accounting practices in its Central European business, dating back to 2016.
The German authorities had thereby initiated an investigation into Jooste’s actions, as reported by Manager Magazin in August 2017.
Following the publication of these allegations, Steinhoff’s stock price experienced a temporary decline of 16% on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, although it recovered after the company denied the charges.
Jooste thereafter stepped down as the CEO of Steinhoff in December 2017, after the company acknowledged “accounting irregularities” within the group and announced its decision to engage PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to conduct an investigation.
In a letter addressed to the company’s staff upon his resignation, Jooste expressed remorse for the “serious errors” he had made and acknowledged the negative impact his actions had caused to the company’s reputation.
Furthermore, in an SMS sent to former Steinhoff director, Jo Grove, on 6 December, Jooste allegedly admitted to attempting to conceal the losses incurred by Steinhoff’s American assets.
The trial against Markus Jooste was scheduled to commence on 18 April in Germany, but due to his failure to appear, the proceedings could not proceed.
Steinhoff, which has been grappling with financial challenges for over five years since auditors refused to approve its accounts, continues to face ongoing difficulties.