South African billionaire and Former CEO of Steinhoff, Markus Jooste has for years battled with accusations of committing accounting fraud between 2011 and 2014. The fraud described as the largest private sector fraud scandal in South Africa’s history, ultimately led to the financial downfall of Steinhoff.
Recall that the accounting practices of Steinhoff became a subject of scrutiny in 2014 with allegations of insider trading traced back to the company’s initial public offering in 1998.
These allegations made German prosecutors charge Jooste and three colleagues with balance sheet fraud in March 2021. The charges are linked to a fraudulent deal that saw Jooste and his colleagues lie that they traded “know-how,” which resulted in a substantial boost in revenues for a Steinhoff subsidiary.
But Jooste failed to appear in court during the recent proceedings that spanned 10 days. His failure to appear in court made the Regional Court of Oldenburg in Germany issue an arrest want for Markus. If the South African billionaire is found guilty of the charges levied against him, he could face up to three years in jail.
Reasons Why Markus Jooste Failed to appear in Court
Speaking on his behalf, Jooste’s attorney, Bernd Gross hinted that he could not travel because of the restricted access to his passport. The restriction is due to the significant probes and allegations he faces in South Africa.
Reports say it may be difficult to extradite Jooste from South Africa to Germany because there is no bilateral extradition treaty between the two countries, and both countries have the right to refuse the extradition of their own nationals under the European Extradition Convention.
Also, his former colleague and South African billionaire Christo Wiese have dragged Jooste to court in a bid to regain control of the esteemed Lanzerac wine estate. Wiese had earlier sold the wine estate to a foreign consortium in 2012 in exchange for Steinhoff shares.
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