Markus Jooste, Ex-Boss of Poundland Owner, Dies After Suffering Gunshot Wound in South Africa

Markus Jooste, Ex-Boss of Poundland Owner, Dies After Gunshot
The 63-year-old died a day after getting a record fine for accounting fraud

Markus Jooste, Ex-Boss of Poundland Owner, Dies After Suffering Gunshot Wound in South Africa

Markus Jooste, the former leader of the Steinhoff retail conglomerate, which was embroiled in a massive corporate fraud scandal in South Africa, has passed away. According to police reports, Mr. Jooste died from a gunshot wound in a hospital, with local media indicating that he shot himself at his residence in the southern town of Hermanus. Police spokesperson Andre Traut stated that investigations are ongoing to ascertain the circumstances surrounding his death.

The Steinhoff group, which included European retailers like the UK’s Poundland, once thrived under Mr. Jooste’s leadership. He was hailed as an extraordinary businessman, credited with transforming the small Johannesburg-based furniture retailer Steinhoff into a global retail powerhouse. However, news of the 63-year-old’s demise emerged just a day after he was ordered to pay a record-breaking $25 million (£20 million) fine, reportedly the largest in South Africa’s history.

Prior to his death, Mr. Jooste had been informed of an arrest warrant issued against him by the police. The country’s financial regulator accused him of being involved in the dissemination of misleading financial statements related to Steinhoff International Holdings. An audit conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) uncovered fraudulent transactions totaling $6.5 billion, orchestrated by Steinhoff executives to artificially boost profits.

The fallout from the accounting scandal was severe, with nearly 98% of Steinhoff’s share value being wiped out in 2017, leading to substantial losses for investors, including South African pension funds. While Mr. Jooste resigned as CEO, he consistently denied any knowledge of the fraudulent accounting practices. Additionally, he faced fines for insider trading in 2020.

Steinhoff International Holdings, headquartered in South Africa but also listed in Frankfurt, Germany, faced legal repercussions beyond its home country. Following Mr. Jooste’s failure to appear at a trial in Germany in April and subsequent warrant for his arrest issued by a German court in June, his legal troubles extended internationally.

Markus Jooste’s death marks the end of a tumultuous chapter in the history of Steinhoff, leaving behind lingering questions about the extent of his involvement in the corporate scandal that shook the business world.


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