Scandal-tainted former Steinhoff CEO dies in reported suicide

Markus Jooste

By: Se-Anne Rall

Former Steinhoff chief executive Markus Jooste has died.

While details around Jooste’s death remain the subject of a police investigation, it has been reported that he shot himself on Thursday.

Jooste’s death comes following a penalty of R475 million imposed by South Africa’s Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) after it found that he contributed to the publication of misleading or deceptive financial statements about the company.

Steinhoff was rocked by an accounting scandal in 2017, with audit firm Deloitte confirming the accounting irregularities.

Born in Cape Town in 1961, Jooste rose through the ranks of the business world, with his early career marked by significant achievements in the South

African corporate sector, leading him to the pinnacle of his profession as the CEO of Steinhoff International, a global retail conglomerate with operations across Europe, Africa, and Australasia.

The avid horse breeder in 2016 was reported to be one of Africa’s richest people, worth US$400 million, according to Wikipedia.

Under Jooste’s leadership, Steinhoff experienced unprecedented growth, expanding its footprint through aggressive acquisitions and diversification strategies. His ability to navigate complex international markets and merge differing corporate cultures under the Steinhoff umbrella was widely regarded as a testament to his business acumen.

However, Jooste’s illustrious career took a dramatic turn in December 2017, when allegations of accounting irregularities surfaced, leading to his immediate resignation.

The revelation sent shockwaves through the financial world, wiping billions off Steinhoff’s market value and sparking investigations by regulatory authorities across several countries.

In just one week, around R160 billion of Steinhoff’s value was wiped off the markets.

The scandal, often compared to the Enron debacle in its scope and impact, highlighted significant flaws in corporate governance and financial oversight.

The years following Jooste’s departure from Steinhoff were marred by legal battles, public scrutiny and the unravelling of his reputation.

Accused of orchestrating a complex fraud that inflated profits and asset values, Jooste became a central figure in discussions about corporate ethics, responsibility and the consequences of unchecked ambition.

IOL has reached out to the South African Police Service and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (also known as the Hawks) for comment.
This is a developing story.

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