South Africa

Markus Jooste skips another court appearance

Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste, already facing a warrant of arrest in Germany for his alleged involvement in the massive accounting scandal, further fuelled controversy by failing to attend proceedings in Pretoria on Tuesday regarding his challenge against a reduced R20 million administrative penalty for insider trading.

Jooste, who resigned from his position in late 2017 amidst the accounting scandal, had previously been fined R162 million by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) for insider trading.

ALSO READ: High Court setback for disgraced former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste

However, in December, the Financial Services Tribunal reduced the penalty by 90%, leading to Jooste’s recent legal dispute.

Now Jooste is now under increased scrutiny for his absence from the court proceedings, attracting more criticism, News24 reported.

Insider trading allegations

Jooste’s legal predicament stems from allegations of insider trading related to his tenure as the CEO of Steinhoff International Holdings. In October 2020, the FSCA imposed a staggering R162 million fine on Jooste for sending a text message to four of his friends, advising them to divest their Steinhoff stocks urgently.

The message was perceived as confidential information and a blatant case of insider trading.

Financial services tribunal’s decision

Despite Jooste’s initial fine, the Financial Services Tribunal handed down a surprising decision in December. They reduced his penalty by 90%, effectively reducing it to R20 million.

The tribunal’s rationale was that Jooste had not disclosed “precise” inside information to his friends, but they still upheld the ruling that he had engaged in insider trading by encouraging his associates to sell their Steinhoff shares.

ALSO READ: Steinhoff’s Markus Jooste couldn’t find his passport – misses German court date

In Germany

Jooste’s legal challenges are not confined to South Africa alone. In July, the Higher Regional Court of Oldenburg in Germany rejected his challenge against an arrest warrant issued in connection with the accounting scandal.

German authorities have been working on an extradition request to bring Jooste from South Africa to face charges in Germany.

Jooste’s former colleague, Dirk Schreiber, the former European finance chief of the company, received a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence from the same German court in August. This marked the first imprisonment related to the accounting scandal that nearly caused the retailer to collapse.