Editorials 7.9.2018 08:40 am

Use overseas pros to investigate Steinhoff and its ilk

The former chief executive of Steinhoff, Markus Jooste, testifies in parliament for the first time since the Steinhoff scandal broke last year. Picture Henk Kruger / African News Agency (ANA)

The former chief executive of Steinhoff, Markus Jooste, testifies in parliament for the first time since the Steinhoff scandal broke last year. Picture Henk Kruger / African News Agency (ANA)

We should ask foreign governments to loan us people with the expertise to help in the investigations into this sort of white-collar business disaster.

Even by South Africans’ high standards in ducking, diving and avoiding responsibility, the performance by former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste before parliament this week was breathtaking in its avoidance of accountability.

After his long and rambling testimony to the lawmakers, there can be few people who would have had any clearer inkling of what happened to the massive multinational company which caused its precipitous drop in value.

Partly the dust of confusion was because the parliamentarians asking the questions were also floundering around in a morass of ignorance. That’s not their fault, it must be said, because the intricacies of international finance require specialised knowledge.

So, we think it is a good suggestion from Institute for Security Studies’ CEO Jakkie Cilliers that we ask foreign governments to loan us people with the necessary expertise to help in the investigations into this sort of white-collar business disaster.

So far, there has been no one held accountable – much less arrested and charged – for the Steinhoff debacle, which underlines the importance of the suggestion by Cilliers.

He says investigative capacity in government agencies like The Hawks has been decimated. We need all the help we can get – so why not ask for it overseas?

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