Markus Jooste says he was unaware of ‘accounting irregularities’

Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Joost

Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Joost

The former Steinhoff CEO claimed he was not aware of any financial inconsistencies when he left the company.

Former Steinhoff chief executive Markus Jooste testified before parliament’s standing committee on finance that he was not aware of any irregularities in the company’s books.

Jooste resigned last December as the company’s CEO following his admission as German authorities, where Steinhoff has primary listing, began probing its financials.

“When I left Steinhoff on the 4th of December (2017), I was not aware of any accounting irregularities,” Jooste told MPs.

Jooste also testified that the auditing firm Deloitte’s proposal to further probe “accounting irregularities” at the company would adversely impact on the company’s share price, credit lines, and investor confidence.

He said since the auditing company had conducted a two-year investigation which found no wrongdoing, he had been against the proposed further probe into the irregularities.

Jooste testified that Deloitte’s proposed probe would lead to a delayed release of financial results which then led to him suggesting another auditing firm be found and then rather for unaudited financial results to be released.

However, the board was against Jooste’s proposal, resulting in the company’s share price fallout, the former Steinhoff CEO testified.

Jooste told MPs that a delayed announcement of financial results would lead to a loss of confidence and a drop in the share price.

Last week, the company’s former chief financial officer (CFO) Ben La Grange told MPs that did not disclose his relationships with third parties who were key in the losses suffered by the global retailer.

La Grange said false profits, assets acquired at inflated values by third parties, and the fact that Steinhoff did not have a single auditor were the three main reasons for the accounting irregularities which led to the collapse of the share price.

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