Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste has declined an invitation by Parliament to brief three of its committees on allegations of accounting fraud against the group, Business Day reported. In a letter to the finance committee, Jooste reportedly said he was no longer a representative of Steinhoff.
Jooste resigned in December after news broke that Steinhoff allegedly did not declare $1-billion's worth of transactions with a related company, in contravention of laws requiring it to do so. Steinhoff has also been under investigation by regulators in Germany for accounting irregularities and it is now under investigation in more countries.
Headquartered in South Africa but registered in the Netherlands, Steinhoff is now facing lawsuits by investors in that country, as well as Germany and South Africa.
Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) was among the Parliamentary committees that called for Steinhoff's executives to be summoned to Parliament last year, according to Fin24.
"Parliament cannot be a spectator in this unfolding drama, as the laws of the country, ethical conduct and workers' pensions go down the drain because of the recklessness and corruption of the super-rich," Scopa said in a statement at the time.
On Monday, Scopa chair Themba Godi tweeted that the committee had "almost" everyone it needed to see when hearings begin on Wednesday.
But it has since emerged that Jooste is refusing to appear before the finance committee. It is not clear whether he will appear before the other committees, but it seems unlikely.
His attorney, Callie Albertyn, said Jooste "is no longer a director or employee of Steinhoff. He respectfully declines the invitation to make a presentation to the committees on behalf of Steinhoff".
DA finance spokesperson David Maynier reportedly said that Parliament would have to seriously consider subpoenaing Jooste.
"So much for taking the consequences of his behaviour like a man," Maynier said, according to Business Day.
The Steinhoff delegation to Parliament will reportedly include Heather Sonn (acting chairperson), Johan van Zyl (chair of the board's independent subcommittee) and Steve Booysen (chair of the board's audit committee).
Members of the management board who will be attending are Danie van der Merwe (acting CEO) and Louis du Preez (commercial director).