Jooste’s version is that Andreas Seifert, one of his former European partners, had complained to the German authorities in 2015, which led to the prosecutors cooking up a case against him. He said Deloitte had insisted on a forensic investigation into Seifert’s claims, which Jooste thought was unnecessary because the German law firm FGS had already found no evidence.

He said this would have delayed the release of Steinhoff’s audited results, which would have led to “dire consequences”. So he proposed firing Deloitte and hiring new auditors who would have been willing to sign off the accounts.

Markus Jooste, the disgraced former CEO of retailer Steinhoff, tipped his hand on Wednesday in parliament to his likely defence when the Hawks eventually get around to asking him to explain his role in SA’s largest corporate collapse. Jooste was appearing for the first time in public since allegations of fraud on December 4 caused a R185bn rout in Steinhoff’s share price, damaging SA’s reputation as an investment destination, and led to a contagion of market panic. Until now Jooste had resisted all efforts to explain what happened at Steinhoff, Europe’s second-largest retailer after Ikea. Jooste only appeared on Wednesday, 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 claimed caused the slide in the share price. Jooste’s version is that Andreas Seifert, one...

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