PARLIAMENT, March 28 – MPs will immediately set the ball rolling on the issuing of a subpoena to former Steinhoff chief executive officer Markus Jooste, the chairman of Parliament’s standing committee on finance, Yunus Carrim, said on Thursday.
Jooste, through a letter from his attorneys, said he would not attend a joint meeting of Parliament’s committees on finance, public accounts, trade and industry, and public service and administration on Thursday. He said his appearance could undermine his right to a fair trial, given that the accounting irregularities at Steinhoff were under investigation by the Hawks and several other regulatory bodies, including the Financial Services Board.
“We’ve taken a decision to subpoena Mr Jooste. The matter of how this is managed and exactly when will be decided between the legal services unit in Parliament and the Speaker’s office,” said Carrim on the sidelines of Thursday’s joint meeting.
“They will have to look at the right of Parliament to call any person before it, if needs be through a summons on a matter of public interest on the one hand and on the other hand a person accused of wrongdoing to have a right of defence before any regulatory or investigative body, which is also pursuing the matter, including the Hawks.”
Carrim said in his view it was possible to balance the right of parliamentarians to do oversight with the rights of an accused person.
Steinhoff’s former chief financial officer Ben La Grange also did not attend, with his lawyers citing short notice.
Carrim said La Grange would be given 10 days “breathing space” to decide whether he will appear before the committee in mid-August, but: “If we don’t hear from him or he says he won’t be coming, we will also seek to apply a subpoena to him.”