Home » Disgraced South African billionaire faces arrest after skipping German court hearing

Disgraced South African billionaire faces arrest after skipping German court hearing

by Mfonobong Nsehe
Markus Jooste

Disgraced South African billionaire Markus Jooste, who is embroiled in the Steinhoff accounting scandal, has now found himself a wanted man in Germany.

Prosecutors have applied for an arrest warrant against Jooste, who failed to appear in court on Tuesday. This marks Jooste’s first criminal charge since the collapse of Steinhoff five years ago. 

Billionaires.Africa earlier reported on the highly anticipated trial, which was set to commence on April 18 in Oldenburg, Germany.

The trial, which is expected to last 10 days, will see the disgraced South African billionaire face charges related to Steinhoff’s financial fraud scandal.

Jooste, the face of South Africa’s largest private sector fraud scandal, stands accused of committing accounting fraud between 2011 and 2014, which led to the financial woes of Steinhoff.

Jooste’s absence during his recent trial in Germany, allegedly due to the loss of his travel documents, has prompted the public prosecutor’s office in Oldenburg to apply for the suspension of proceedings and the issuance of an arrest warrant. 

The disgraced South African billionaire was previously fined a total of $882,000 and barred from serving as a director for two decades.

Steinhoff’s accounting practices have been under scrutiny since 2014, with allegations of insider trading dating back to the company’s initial public offering in 1998, according to insiders familiar with the group’s operations.

In March 2021, Jooste, and three colleagues were charged by German prosecutors with balance sheet fraud.

The charges stem from an alleged fraudulent deal in 2010, where Jooste and his colleagues falsely claimed to trade “know-how,” resulting in a €95 million ($104.06 million) boost in revenues for a Steinhoff subsidiary.

His involvement in Steinhoff’s accounting scandal and abrupt resignation in December 2017 caused a sharp drop in the company’s share price, wiping out the investments and livelihoods of many.

Presently, the company is still in debt of more than $10 billion and is attempting to negotiate an agreement with its creditors that would result in their ownership of the majority of the company, ultimately leading to its delisting.

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