Markus Jooste, the ex-head of Steinhoff who quit this month amid an accounting scandal, is being sued by three South African lenders after a racehorse company he was a director of failed to meet its financial commitments.
Troubled Steinhoff owns the Dealz and Poundland discount stores across Ireland.
Mayfair Speculators Ltd, of which Mr Jooste was a director until two weeks ago, owes Sanlam’s capital markets arm, Investec and Absa, a banking unit of Barclays Africa Group, over 1.2bn rand (€79.3m), according to documents filed by Absa on December 18 in the Western Cape High Court.
Both Absa and Investec have gone to court to try and recoup their money and want Mayfair to be liquidated.
The filings deepen Mr Jooste’s predicament. Fears around Steinhoff’s accounting irregularities have cut the share price by more than 90% as investors baulked at a lack of further information and billionaire chairman Christo Wiese also quit.
Steinhoff is being investigated by regulators in Germany, South Africa, and the Netherlands and faces a spate of lawsuits in Europe.
Steinhoff said the company can’t comment on the ex-CEO’s affairs as he’s no longer an employee.
Mr Jooste is a known horse racing fanatic and through Mayfair owned one of the largest stables of thoroughbreds in South Africa. Mayfair sold one of its prize horses, Legal Eagle, this week, according to the Sporting Post, while a South African labour group has asked the organisers of a major Cape Town horse race to ban Mr Jooste from entering his animals in the competition.
Mayfair, which also owns properties and a Steinhoff share portfolio held by a unit of Standard Bank Group, transferred 1.5bn rand in assets to its holding company in August, said Absa, just before Germany’s Manager-Magazin reported that Mr Jooste and others were being investigated by prosecutors for possible accounting fraud.
A Mayfair representative and Danie van der Merwe, recently appointed Steinhoff interim chief executive, approached Investec for extra capital in November, and must have known “that the collapse in the Steinhoff share price was imminent”, said Absa manager Hester van Niekerk.
Absa is owed 226m rand, Investec about 250m rand, and Sanlam Capital Markets around 800m, Mr van Niekerk said in the court papers.
Bloomberg and Irish Examiner