Executive Insights

Steinhoff ‘is not an Enron’ or ‘a Bernie Madoff’ says Christo Wiese

Business Insider SA
Christo Wiese (Photo: Jaco Marais / Netwerk24)
  • The embattled Steinhoff group has good assets, major investor Christo Wiese says in a new interview.
  • Those assets happen to be the ones he sold to Steinhoff – and now wants back.
  • Wiese says he has had no contact with former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste.

There are good business in the Steinhoff group, Christo Wiese, one of its biggest investors, said in an interview this week. The ones he wants back, for instance.

"It is not an Enron where there is only smoke and mirrors," Wiese told journalist Willemien Brümmer in an interview published on Netwerk24 on Friday

"It is not a Bernie Madoff where there is nothing. There are excellent businesses in that group and most of them come out of the Pepkor stable."

(Enron filed what was then the largest ever bankruptcy in American history in 2001; it turned out to have looted billions through rampant fraud. Bernie Madoff operated one of the largest pyramid schemes ever.)

Read the full interview (in Afrikaans): Christo Wiese gesels met Willemien Brümme: ‘Ek sou Jooste wou vra: Hoekom?’

Wiese on Thursday launched a R59 billion claim against Steinhoff through his Titan Group. The amount is nearly equal to the price Steinhoff paid to acquire Wiese's Pepkor group in 2015.

There is some doubt that the claim can succeed under the Dutch law that applies to the Amsterdam-domiciled Steinhoff International, because Wiese was a director and not an outside investor.

Since launching that claim Wiese has told one radio station that the pain of betrayal outweighs his financial losses, and another radio station that he always based his business on trust

The apparent fraud at Steinhoff has made for the darkest time ever in his 76-year life, Wiese told Brümmer. 

As in previous interviews Wiese would not speak in detail about Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste, who stands accused of manipulating Steinhoff's financials.

He had neither seen Jooste nor spoken to him since the CEO's abrupt resignation in December, Wiese said.

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