No Upsurge In Trust Funds Fraud: Law Society

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By Staff Reporter

THE Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) says there is no upsurge in the theft of clients’ trust funds despite recent judgments showing that some rogue lawyers have been deregistered after swindling their clients’ money.

Allaying the public’s fears that their funds in the custody of lawyers are not safe, LSZ President Wellington Magaya said lawyers continued to conduct their businesses ethically.

He said the recent judgments by the tribunal court were only legacy rulings dating back, some dating back to 2018.

“These are not recent cases, some are dating back to 2018, but the judges were reserving judgments as they were overwhelmed with other duties. So the narrative that there is an upsurge in the theft of trust funds is wrong,” Magaya told Sunday.

A tribunal court is made up of two judges and two senior lawyers.

Early this month, top Harare Lawman Chimuriwo was deregistered after he was found guilty of misappropriating trust funds amounting to over US$100 000. He was found guilty of unethical conduct by a tribunal chaired by High Court judge, Justice Felistus Chatukuta.

Puwayi Chiutsi is also facing de-registration on the recommendation of the LSZ after a disciplinary tribunal found he abused trust funds amounting to US$70 000 and sold an immovable property under judicial attachment.

A senior partner at Mugurungi and Kamdefwere Legal Practitioners, Moses Kamdefwere faces deregistration after a tribunal set up to hear allegations of misconduct levelled against him concluded that he acted unlawfully.

Justice Chatukuta established the Harare lawyer failed to pay “promptly” US$49, 690, 39 deposited into his trust account by a client.

Another well-known Harare lawyer, Charles Chinyama is facing also de-registration after he was found guilty of six counts of unethical conduct for fleecing clients’ money running into thousands of United States dollars.

However, Magaya advised the public not to panic as lawyers remained ethical and professional in their work adding that this year, no legal practitioner had been brought before a tribunal facing abuse of office charges or theft of trust funds.

He also urged aggrieved parties to approach criminal and civil courts to recover their money lost to errant lawyers and to have the legal practitioners answer to their crimes in a criminal court.

“The obligation is on the aggrieved to institute criminal procedures and we encourage them to institute civil proceedings to get compensation or the criminal avenue through criminal courts,” said Magaya.

He also said the LSZ had a fund to compensate people who would have fallen prey to unscrupulous lawyers.

“We also compensate aggrieved parties although the funds do not match the actual cost of the money lost, and that is why we encourage them to approach the courts.”