Steinhoff says ex-CEO got $2.4 million bonus without approvals

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The findings raise further questions about the role Markus Jooste played in the origins of Steinhoff’s scandal, widely described as South Africa’s biggest corporate fraud.

Sunday 12, May 2019

(Bloomberg) --Steinhoff International Holdings’ former Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste received almost EUR 2.1 million ($2.4 million) in bonuses without required approvals in the months before the global retailer almost collapsed amid an accounting crisis.

According to Steinhoff’s 2017 annual report, Jooste was awarded EUR 500,000 euros on 1 March 2017 from Steinhoff’s European unit on his own instruction and the payment was neither proposed by the human resources and remuneration committee nor approved by the supervisory board.

The ex-CEO then got a further EUR 1.57 million from the same unit on 31 May of that year, also on Jooste’s instruction.

While the board had approved this amount, Jooste received the payment up front and in full, rather than over three scheduled tranches in October 2017, November 2017 and in October 2018.

“Management could not find evidence of approval by the remuneration committee authorising this upfront payment,” added Steinhoff report.

The ex-CEO resigned in December 2017, when the owner of Conforama in France and Mattress Firm in the US reported accounting irregularities that went on to wipe 96 per cent off the share price.

Jooste has since been named in a forensic report commissioned by Steinhoff as one of a small group of people allegedly behind questionable transactions that brought the global retailer to the brink of collapse.

The probe by auditor PwC identified EUR 6.5 billion of irregular dealings with eight firms from 2009 and 2017.

In September, Jooste told South African lawmakers that the company’s woes could be traced back to a protracted dispute with a former partner, adding that he was not aware of the financial irregularities reported by the company the day he quit.

Steinhoff has said it plans to try and retrieve certain payments made to executives. The company’s boards plan to exercise their clawback rights where appropriate.

TAGS : Steinhoff International Holdings, Conforama, Mattress Firm, Markus Jooste, PwC

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