Parliament gearing up for Steinhoff probe


Cape Town – Parliamentary hearings into Steinhoff are set to start in late January, according to Yunus Carrim, the chair of parliament’s finance oversight committee. 

In a statement on Thursday, Carrim said the hearings into what happened at the Stellenbosch-headquartered global furniture conglomerate to cause its stock price to decline by over 80% would be held jointly with parliament’s watchdog committee Scopa (the Standing Committee on Public Accounts).

“Depending on outstanding administrative issues, the hearings will be on 30 or 31 January,” he said. 

This means the hearings will kick off nine days before President Jacob Zuma gives his annual State of the Nation address on February 8. 

In early December 2017, after Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste adruptly stepped down amid a still-ongoing accounting scandal, Carrim said company’s dramatic share price plunge “confirms the need for tighter regulation and monitoring of companies and for more effective regulatory bodies”.

READ: Parliament’s finance committee lashes out at Steinhoff

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi, meanwhile, said in December he would like to see National Treasury being “more strident in its condemnation of the scandal than it has been thus far”.

The Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which manages the assets of the state’s main employee pension fund, owns about 10% of Steinhoff’s stock, and has lost billions of rand in line with the steep fall in Steinhoff shares.

Carrim added it was “absolutely not true” that the hearings are being held at the request of DA MP David Maynier, who is a member of the committee and his party’s finance spokesperson. 

This after Maynier earlier on Thursday said that Carrim had not yet replied to his request to schedule hearings around the matter. 

“Actually, I acted immediately after the issue broke out and decided that the committee would have to have hearings on this matter well before Mr Maynier wrote to me and rushed to the media. I also received a call from Mr Floyd Shivambu regarding the matter – and Mr Godi had already issued a statement,” said Carrim.

Maynier, meanwhile, said the committee should call on current and former members of Steinhoff’s board to give evidence. This raises the possibility that parliament will call on Jooste and the group’s former chair Christo Wiese to give testimony.

Jooste has gone to ground after abruptly quitting at Steinhoff CEO on December 5. Wiese, meanwhile, resigned from his positions at the group in mid-December once it became clear the scandal was not lessening.  

“We need to know what they knew, when they knew it, and what they did about it when it came to ‘accounting irregularities’ at Steinhoff,” said Maynier.

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