Parliamentary hearings on Steinhoff debacle to be held later this month

Markus Jooste is the former CEO of Steinhoff.
Markus Jooste is the former CEO of Steinhoff.
Image: Raymond Preston

Finance committee chairperson Yunus Carrim confirmed on Thursday that joint parliamentary committee hearings on the Steinhoff debacle would be held in the last week of January.

The share price of the global retailer plummeted in December after it reported that accounting irregularities in its financial statements were being probed. The group is under investigation by regulators in Europe‚ as well as in SA.

Carrim said the hearings would be held jointly with the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) and the portfolio committee on public service and administration. "Depending on outstanding administrative issues‚ the hearings will be on January 30 or 31‚" Carrim said.

He said he had written to the Financial Services Board‚ South African Reserve Bank‚ Public Investment Corporation‚ Government Employees Pension Fund‚ the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors and the JSE. He has informed them about the pending hearings and has asked them to provide the committee with the scope or terms of reference of the Financial Services Board investigation into Steinhoff and the possible timelines for the completion of the investigation.

Carrim said representatives of Steinhoff would also be invited to make a submission at the hearings‚ but it was not yet clear legally speaking whether a private-sector entity was obliged to give evidence before a parliamentary committee‚ as Parliament only has oversight over public entities. It could be‚ however‚ that Steinhoff executives welcome the opportunity to provide clarity on affairs within the group.

DA finance spokesperson David Maynier issued a statement on Thursday in which he re-emphasised the need for parliamentary hearings by the finance committee on Steinhoff‚ which he said he had requested.

"We need to ensure that members‚ and former members‚ of the supervisory board and the management board of Steinhoff International appear before the finance committee. We need to know what they knew‚ when they knew it‚ and what they did about it when it came to ‘accounting irregularities’ at Steinhoff‚" Maynier said.

Carrim said‚ however‚ that it was "absolutely not true" that the hearings would be held at the request of Maynier.

"Actually‚ I acted immediately after the issue broke out and decided that the committee would have to have hearings on this matter well before Mr Maynier wrote to me and rushed to the media‚" Carrim said. "I also received a call from Mr Floyd Shivambu [EFF chief whip] regarding the matter and Mr Godi [chairperson of Scopa] had already issued a statement." It was not only the DA that cared about an issue of such national importance that should really cut across petty political party rivalries‚ Carrim said.

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