Gill Marcus received millions in donations from Steinhoff

Gill Marcus. Photo: Reserve Bank of South Africa.

Gill Marcus, the former Reserve Bank governor and currently an assistant commissioner of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Commission of Inquiry, has been a beneficiary of Markus Jooste’s Steinhoff Group’s largesse, according to Independent Online (IOL).

An NGO of which Marcus was executive director, Kilt (Knysna Initiative for Learning and Teaching) received annual donations in excess of R10 million from Steinhoff, amounting to almost 50% of the organisation’s annual budget of R24,7 million. Kilt’s latest annual report the 12 months ended February 28, 2018 showed this amount.

The Steinhoff debacle has been the subject of hearings by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Commission of Inquiry on which Marcus sits. The PIC has effectively lost billions of rands due to its shareholding in Steinhoff.

According to IOL, “the inquiry heard evidence from 77 witnesses over the past eight months, and is working to finalise its report for submission to President Cyril Ramaphosa by October 31.

“On Tuesday, a businessperson who preferred to remain anonymous but who has been close to the inquiry, questioned why the commission never requested Steinhoff management to testify, while other companies were vigorously questioned for lengthy periods about much smaller investments made by the PIC.”

The businessperson suggested that perhaps it was due to Steinhoff’s support of the NGO, because he alleged Marcus had become a “major beneficiary” of the Steinhoff Group.

The commission responded yesterday to say Marcus had made “full disclosure” of her interest in the NGO to the commission.

“The work she performs there is pro-bono; she does not receive any remuneration from it. Furthermore, the commitment made by Steinhoff is also detailed in the Kilt’s annual reports, which is publicly available,” the commission said.

Responding to a question why Steinhoff had not been asked to testify, the commission said that it was required to look into the question of impropriety on the part of the PIC.

“The PIC’s decisions to make further investment in Steinhoff was extensively covered in the testimony and cross-examination of Dr (Dan) Matjila and other PIC officials, as well as testimony and evidence related to the Lancaster Group,” the commission said.

Matjila, the former chief executive of the PIC, testified before the commission that the asset manager had in 2016 leapt at an opportunity to raise its stake in Steinhoff when businessman and former ANC minister Jayendra Naidoo approached them with an opportunity to buy up to 3,5 percent of the shares in Steinhoff that carried special voting rights and a seat on the board. The PIC ended up acquiring a 3 percent stake in Steinhoff for R9,4 billion.

Read the more detailed article here.