Former Steinhoff leader found dead after massive fine levied

Markus Jooste appears in parliament to face a panel investigating an accounting scandal that rocked the retailer in Cape Town, South Africa, September 5, 2018. (Source: Reuters)

Markus Jooste, former CEO of Steinhoff International, has been found dead in South Africa, just a day after the country’s financial regulator levied a $38 million fine against him.

Jooste, aged 63, was charged for making false and misleading Steinhoff’s financial statements between 2014 and 2017, according to the Australian Financial Review (AFR). Previously, he was also fined $1.6 million for insider trading.

The death took place at his home town in Hermanus. Local police reported the death of a 63-year-old man due to a fatal gunshot wound to the head, but did not identify him by name. They added that no foul play was suspected.

Founded in 1964, Steinhoff was dual-listed in Germany and South Africa and operated primarily in furniture and household goods. The company had operations in Europe, Africa, Asia, the US, Australia and New Zealand. It was officially liquidated in October last year.

In Australia and New Zealand it owned the Fantastic Furniture and Freedom retail chains.

Steinhoff revealed holes in its accounts in December 2017, the first sign of an accounting fraud that led to the near-collapse of the retailer, Reuters reported.

Jooste told a South African parliamentary inquiry in 2018 that he was not aware of any accounting irregularities when he left the company in late 2017.

Steinhoff is the former owner of Conforama in France and Mattress Firm in the US. It was also the majority owner of South African and European discount retailers Pepkor.

If you or someone you know is in need of support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24 hours, 7 days a week) or chat to a Crisis Supporter online at (7pm–midnight, every night).

You have 7 articles remaining. Unlock 15 free articles a month, it’s free.