Jooste’s horses will not run in the Met
12 Event will go ahead without protests – unions
THE National Horseracing Authority (NHA) board met to discuss several issues pertaining to the Sun Met, including businessman Markus Jooste’s involvement in the sector, as unions planned to protest at the event.
Yesterday’s meeting came after three unions pressed the authority on the former Steinhoff chief executive’s influence in horse racing in South Africa. The board announced it had reached agreements with Cosatu and Mayfair Speculators, a firm headed by Jooste.
Lyndon Barends, NHA chief executive, made assurances that Jooste would not make a profit out of the race.
He said Cosatu had agreed to call off its march – which, the union warned, would shut down the event – after Mayfair withdrew their horses in the “national interest”.
The Public Servants Association (PSA) and the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) held a press conference on Thursday to divulge their findings on 2 000 pages of Steinhoff ’s financial records.
Dominic Storm, the chartered accountant who this week pored over the records, revealed there were tax irregu- larities in several jurisdictions where the company trades.
Storm told Weekend Argus a German investigation specifically related to tax evasion was also under way.
“German regulators have specifically identified him as a person of interest in the case. According to our information, the case is still on.”
A statement from Steinhoff International said the unions had not raised this issue with the company this week.
Storm said: “What we’ve found on a preliminary basis, particularly in the financial statements, is that Markus Jooste makes certain assertions about the company, its health and performance and its ability to continue in the foreseeable future.”
He said he was startled by Jooste’s claims about the company’s financial health after viewing the financial statements.
“We find it quite significant that he’s been making these assertions about the correctness of information, which was also used by investors to plough money in the company.”
Storm said “from a corporate governance perspective, a lot of self-interest existed” in the books. He also looked at the tax affairs of Steinhoff “and based them on German investigations into companies owned by Steinhoff ”.
“What we think we have found (is that) the rate at which they pay taxes is ‘managed’ to an extent that they don’t pay more than 15% in tax (in SA). What we found problematic with that is the effective corporate tax is 28% and in other jurisdictions Steinhoff operates in it’s far above 15%. This didn’t make sense to us. So, what we did is, we calculated the effective tax rate based on information disclosed in the financial statements.”
PSA and Fedusa said they would “peacefully” demonstrate against Jooste at the Sun Met. Jooste had earlier resigned as director of Mayfair Speculators, a company used to conduct his horse racing interests.
In December, the company reached an agreement with Absa, one of its creditors. The deal reportedly includes selling all the horses.
Tahir Maepa, PSA general manager, said the organisation would pursue Jooste relentlessly. He said the association was trying to curtail Jooste’s profits in the Sun Met. “He was a monopoly. He owns hundreds of horses. We called on the National Horseracing Authority to disassociate itself from Jooste. This is a victory for the country. We say ‘no’ to people like Jooste who are bloodsuckers of the working class. Ultimately, he deserves to be jailed.”
Barends said they had made sure Jooste would not make a profit out of the race, not even through horse clubs in which Mayfair held stakes.
“We’re all affected. Any good pension fund, like ours, would have had some money invested in the group. We do understand the view that the PSA has taken. While we’re distancing ourselves, we’ll always protect the interest of our workers without compromising our principles.”