South Africans welcome Reserve Bank’s decision to seize Markus Jooste’s assets

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Observers from different quarters of society have welcomed the move by the Reserve Bank to apply for a court to ensure the seizure of former Steinhoff International CEO Markus Jooste’s assets.

This, as the financial regulator has charged him with the contravention of exchange control regulations.

The belongings seized include his residential home in the Western Cape, numerous luxury cars, a wine estate in Stellenbosch and a Trust that oversees assets worth over a billion rand as well as personal effects like jewellery, paintings and firearms, among others.

But they’re not entirely satisfied. They believe Markus Jooste should have his day in a criminal court and ultimately wear orange overalls.

It’s just over 4 years ago when Markus Jooste was called to give testimony before Parliament’s joint committees of Public Accounts, Finance, Trade and Industry as well as Public Service and Administration.

He had much to say but didn’t appear to leave them with that many answers to help them bolster regulation to avoid a repeat of the Steinhoff saga.

The retail giant, a darling of the local market at the time, saw its share price plunge by 90% after revelations of accounting irregularities at the company emerged on the 5th of December 2017.

Heavily invested shareholder and Chair of the Steinhoff board, Christo Wiese when the calamity unfolded, has welcomed the latest move by the Reserve Bank.

“Like many thousands of South Africans, I am delighted that the SAGA has taken another meaningful step forward and that the people who did so much harm to so many people will finally have to account for what they’ve done,” Wiese says.

For the past 5 years, Markus Jooste appeared untouchable, placing him in a position to dispose of some of the assets that he’s alleged to have dodgily accrued from his alleged misdemeanours at Steinhoff.

While many wish that the law had dealt with Mr Jooste with more haste, they, too, welcome the latest developments.

Political and Corporate commentator Khaya Sithole says, “It is almost 5 years to the day where we actually first heard about the matter and for the Reserve Bank to finally swoop in and say that there has been a case made for holding on to these assets until at least we figure what this man actually did. It is a welcome but overdue intervention.”

The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) which manages government employee pension funds was one of the significant investors that got burned by the Steinhoff share price implosion.

Had that money been invested elsewhere, workers could have enjoyed a better return.

While Jooste’s assets have been seized on account of his alleged contravention of exchange control rules,
COSATU says he needs to be brought to book for his actual hand in the demise of Steinhoff.

Spokesperson for COSATU Sizwe Pamla says, “In fact, what is more troubling for us now is what is that the hawks, the asset forfeiture unit and the NPA have been doing that it took the reserve bank to use the issue of the contravention of exchange regulations to act on him. it is disappointing that the NPA has not hauled this criminal to court after so many years.”

Some are hoping the latest manouvres will help embolden the NPA to finally prosecute Markus Jooste for the biggest corporate scandal to hit South Africa.