Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste was described as a man of integrity by a businessman who has known him for 30 years. A horseracing enthusiast, Jooste, pictured far right, owned horses across the world. Picture: Summerhill
Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste was described as a man of integrity by a businessman who has known him for 30 years. A horseracing enthusiast, Jooste, pictured far right, owned horses across the world. Picture: Summerhill

It’s the biggest fraud in SA corporate history, causing a R300bn destruction in value. Yet the person at the centre of the dirty dealing, former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste, is still on the loose, enjoying the scenic views of the Cape. This despite the fact that it’s been two months since the allegations of extensive fraud emerged — something the furniture retailer has politely termed "accounting irregularities".

Jooste has yet to be questioned by any law enforcement agency, either in SA or in Europe, where the fraud is said to have taken place. Here at home, he’s blithely brushed off requests by three committees of parliament to question him.

But other than the inconvenience of being forced to sell his racehorses and perhaps his Steinhoff shares, it appears Jooste is carrying on as if nothing happened. Of course, he has neither been charged, nor found guilty of any crime. But our authorities should be freezing his assets as we speak, pending charges.

You’d imagine there would be plenty of political will to hold Jooste to account. There’s easy political kudos up for grabs if you’re seen to be acting tough with crooked executives. But the truth is our denuded prosecutions service doesn’t have the skills to tackle corporate crime any more. They will now need to rebuild, and quickly — the Steinhoff case will be their first big test of the post-Zuma era.

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