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The Steinhoff crash wiped more than R200bn off the JSE, erased half the wealth of tycoon Christo Wiese and knocked the pension funds of millions of people.
When it was exposed as a house of cards, tales of fraudulent accounting, lavish spending and ructions in the ‘Stellenbosch mafia’ made the headlines. As regulators tally up the cost, Financial Mail editor Rob Rose reveals the real inside story behind Steinhoff. Based on interviews with key players in South Africa, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands – and documents not yet public – Steinheist reveals:
From 2005 to 2009, the heir to one of South Africa’s blue-blood families methodically constructed the largest-ever con in South African history. Barry Tannenbaum, the grandson of the founder of one of the country’s biggest pharmaceutical firms, Adcock Ingram, offered investors stratospheric returns of more than 200 per cent a year by investing in the components used to make AIDS drugs. It was nothing more than a lie, which suckered the country’s business elite, including the former CEO of Pick n Pay, the one-time head of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the ex-boss of OK Bazaars.
After the bubble popped in June 2009, finance minister Pravin Gordhan announced that hundreds of investors in South Africa, Australia and Europe had ploughed more than R12.5 billion into Tannenbaum’s scheme, based on the empty promise of immense riches. Dwarfing the Brett Kebble rip-off, Fidentia and the Krion pyramid scheme, it proved to be the most embarrassing financial disaster in the country’s history, and it exposed holes in a banking and financial system billed as one of the safest in the world.
For Tannenbaum’s victims, the nightmare continued after the scheme collapsed, as liquidators, tax officials and criminal investigators demanded their pound of flesh. But Tannenbaum, now at large on Australia’s Gold Coast, continues to live as if nothing happened, working for an Australian insurance company.
The question that hasn’t been answered until now is, how did Tannenbaum swindle so many people with such ease? And, more crucially, why did he do it? Through extensive interviews with his family, friends and numerous ‘investors’, this book provides the startling answers to those questions. For the first time, the real motivation that fueled South Africa’s Bernie Madoff is laid bare.
Joe Carnahan co-writes and directs this comedy thriller starring Patrick Wilson and Jessica Alba. Wilson stars as Stretch, a down on his luck limo driver with a substantial gambling debt, who is given one night to pay back the money he owes to his bookie or face the consequences. Desperate to find some high-paying clients, Stretch enlists the help of Charlie (Alba), the sympathetic employee of a rival business. His latest client, an eccentric and wealthy young playboy, offers to pay off his debt in return for some favours. How far will Stretch go to repay the bookie?
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