SA will co-operate with Germans, says Lamola after former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste fails to appear in court

20 April 2023 - 19:36
By Amanda Khoza
Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste. File photo.
Image: Brenton Geach/Gallo Images Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste. File photo.

Justice minister Ronald Lamola was as surprised as everybody else when he heard disgraced former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste failed to appear in court in Germany this week.  

There was nothing at all stopping him. He could have appeared in Germany, so I was also surprised when I saw ... something stopped him from attending,” said Lamola.  

The minister was speaking to journalists at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on the sidelines of a state visit by Namibian President Hage Geingob. 

He was asked whether South Africa would co-operate with German law-enforcement agencies after prosecutors reportedly applied for Jooste to be arrested following his no-show in a German court on Tuesday.  

TimesLIVE reported that the 61-year-old, who is accused of accounting fraud between 2011 and 2014, is said to have lost his travel documents. 

On Tuesday the public prosecutor’s office in Oldenburg applied for proceedings to be suspended and the issuance of an arrest warrant after being informed Jooste could not travel due to missing documents, the SABC reported. 

This would be the first criminal charge against Jooste since Steinhoff’s collapse five years ago. The company's share price plunged by more than 90% after revelations of accounting irregularities on December 5 2017.

In October 2022, assets worth more than R1.2bn held by or linked to Jooste were frozen by the Reserve Bank. These included his home in Hermanus, the Lanzerac wine farm in Stellenbosch and art and jewellery related to suspected exchange control contraventions rather than the wider alleged fraud involving R106bn in “fictitious and/or irregular transactions”. 

“We always co-operate with the other foreign jurisdictions requesting our nationals. On a day-to-day basis we have helped them to attend to issues of justice in their own countries and this matter of Mr Jooste is no different. 

“We will definitely co-operate with Germany, but we will also have to look at what will become of the issues of sentencing, the fines and what our laws say.  

“Looking at [what is] alleged to have been committed, it’s a very serious matter that may need or warrant the minimum sentencing in our country. So all of those things will come into play and then we will be able to co-operate and respond to the German authorities," said Lamola, insisting there was nothing stopping Jooste from travelling to Germany.


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