Parliament given green light to summons former Steinhoff executives Markus Jooste and Ben la Grange
The speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete has authorised the standing committee on finance to issue summons on former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste and former CFO Ben la Grange‚ to give evidence at a hearing scheduled for next week.
Her decision is based on legal opinion from senior counsel on the matter.
Jooste‚ through his lawyer‚ has refused to attend a committee meeting on the grounds that it might prejudice any future criminal or civil case against him. La Grange has indicated his willingness to be present but has told the committee he cannot attend the meeting scheduled for August 29 as his lawyer will not be available.
Mbete has given her endorsement for the committee’s inquiry into the nature‚ causes and consequences of the sudden collapse of Steinhoff’s share value that resulted in investors and pension funds losing billions of rand‚ and thousands of jobs being threatened internationally and in SA. The hearing will include three other parliamentary committees.
The committees are looking into the institutional flaws and challenges in the current financial regulatory framework‚ or any implementation challenges relating to it‚ which might have caused or given rise to the Steinhoff debacle.
"Therefore‚ the inquiry is not a criminal investigation establishing criminal liability‚ nor is it a civil inquiry establishing civil liability of Steinhoff or its employees‚" parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.
"In terms of‚ inter alia‚ section 56 of the constitution‚ the National Assembly and its committees are empowered to summon not only state organs to account to parliament‚ but any private person‚ institution or regulatory body to provide evidence on any legitimate matter of public interest [that] falls within the scope of their oversight mandate‚" he explained.
"Such a person or company would be compelled to comply with the directives of the committee that seek information in order to exercise its functions. The mandate of parliament is to make laws‚ provide oversight and promote public participation to‚ among other [things]‚ protect the citizens‚ advance their development and prevent any recurrence of instances like the calamity of the collapse of the Steinhoff’s share value‚ with wide ranging implications."