Parliament, Wednesday, 28 March 2018 – The Standing Committee on Finance; the Standing Committee on Public Accounts; the Portfolio Committee on Public Administration and the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry held a second briefing on the Steinhoff matter today.
Although they recognised that those serving on the Steinhoff Supervisory Board may not be guilty of any wrongdoing and are entitled to be paid for their services, given the huge losses suffered by such large numbers of people with the collapse of the company shares, the committees think the bonuses are unseemly and bordered on being provocative. They called upon the Steinhoff shareholders to reconsider the proposed bonuses.
The committees have noted the Hawks’ claim that the Steinhoff case opened against Mr Markus Jooste on the eve of the first parliamentary briefing on 31 January was little more than “malicious compliance” and contained little in terms of substance.
Accordingly, they suspect that Steinhoff had rushed to open the case because it had to appear before the committees.
Steinhoff’s lawyers denied this and said they are cooperating with the Hawks. While recognising the complexities of the case, the committees urged Steinhoff to fully cooperate with the Hawks and for the Hawks to process the case expeditiously.
The committees have decided to subpoena Mr Jooste and will pursue this matter further through discussions with Parliament’s Legal Services Unit and the Office of the Speaker.
However, they recognise Mr Jooste’s right to a fair defence before a court of law or a hearing of any regulatory or other investigative body.
They re-emphasised that they are not intending on supplanting the role of any regulatory or other investigative body, including the Hawks, and will never do that. They also don’t want to pre-empt the outcomes of the investigations by these bodies.
The committees have proposed to anybody linked to Steinhoff, who has been reluctant to appear before them, that their lawyers consult with Parliament’s lawyers on the legal parameters of the committees’ oversight role.
The committees also decided to give Mr Ben le Grange, the former Steinhoff CFO, a further 10 days to decide whether he will appear before the committees at their next Steinhoff briefing in August. They will subpoena him if he decides not to appear or fail to reply to their request.
The committees further recognise that investigations into Steinhoff matter are complex, difficult and elusive, and take considerable time to complete.
Although there has been some progress by the regulatory bodies in their investigations of the Steinhoff matter since the committees’ first meeting in January, the committees feel more should – and can be done – expeditiously, especially by the Financial Services Board (FSB).
The committees will have the next briefing on Steinhoff in August, by which time the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission’s (CIPC’s) six-month compliance notice to Steinhoff will have lapsed and the Steinhoff commissioned investigation by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) will have made some headway. They expect to see far more progress and concrete feedback by then.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSONS, MR YUNUS CARRIM, MR THEMBA GODI, MS JOAN FUBBS AND MS MINAH LESOMA.
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