Markus Jooste, the disgraced former CEO of retailer Steinhoff, tipped his hand on Wednesday to his likely defence when the Hawks eventually get around to asking him to explain his role in SA’s largest corporate collapse. On Wednesday Jooste appeared for the first time in public since allegations of fraud on December 4 caused a R185bn rout of Steinhoff’s share price — damaging SA’s reputation as an investment destination — and led to market panic. Until now, Jooste has resisted all efforts to explain what happened at Steinhoff, Europe’s second-largest furniture retailer after Ikea. Jooste appeared flanked by four lawyers after parliament subpoenaed him. But rather than explaining his role in the fraud, he insisted: “I did not know of any accounting irregularities.” Instead, he blamed a former European partner and auditing firm Deloitte for the “uncertainty” that he claims caused the slide in the share price.

Jooste’s version is that Andreas Seifert, one of his former European p...

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