Attorneys accused of appearing like ‘mortgage sharks’

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Attorneys accused of acting like ‘loan sharks’

By Mervyn Naidoo 1h ago

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Durban – Two seasoned attorneys are required to demonstrate why they should not be removed from practicing attorney list given allegations of unprofessional and ethical conduct against them.

Some of the allegations that lawyers Aslam Munga and Imranne Bux face are acting like “loan sharks”, charging exorbitant legal fees, and not acting in the best interests of their clients.

The couple, who are partners in Bux and Associates law firm in Verulam, were expected to respond to a strike motion filed against them by the KZN division of the Legal Practice Council (LPC), the regulator of legal practitioners.

Their matter was due to be heard in the Pietermaritzburg Supreme Court on Tuesday but was withdrawn after attorneys indicated they intended to challenge the LPC action.

A new court date is to be set. The LPC court documents listed Shabeer Joosub, a businessman, and Doctor Ahmed Manjra as complainants.

Joosub agreed to buy two properties in Cornubia, one valued at R3 million and the other valued at R5 million.

Bux took care of business with Joosub but was unable to provide progress reports on the sales despite Joosub’s appeals.

This happened after Joosub deposited 4.2 million R2 in place of the real estate in the bank account of Bux and Associates in August 2016. However, he then learned that R2 2.95 million had been used to secure a stake in a close company and R200,000 went to Priyesh Raghavejee.

Only R1.05m went towards the two properties.

According to Bux, Raghavjee, a friend and business partner of Joosub, provided the instructions on how to deal with the law firm.

Joosub hired his own attorney, Fathima Rajah, to address his concerns and end the mandate with Bux.

In a letter to Bux in April 2017, she accused him of “clouding the water” as the R 4.2 million paid was intended exclusively for the Cornubia properties and demanded a full refund.

Bux insisted that he act on Raghavjee’s orders.

Raghavjee issued an affidavit confirming his support for Joosub’s complaint that he had not authorized anyone to act on his behalf.

Joosub reached out to the LPC and inspectors were appointed to investigate his allegations.

They claimed to have discovered irregularities and that Bux and Munga Joosub, as buyers, owed due diligence and should have followed his instructions for the Cornubia properties.

Dr. Manjra went the LPC route in October 2017.

He accused Bux and Munga of misleading him into investing R1m.

The R1m was intended for brokerage fees to a third party who helped Manjra purchase a Clare Estate gas station in 2015, Munga said.

Munga was Manjra’s attorney for many years, handling his investments and legal affairs.

An investment included R1m in the fuel retail business the two lawyers ran and Manjra received an annual return of 15%.

Another investment of R550,000 was made in February 2013 and Manjra received regular returns.

But in June 2016, hearing that they were lending money at exorbitant interest rates, he became concerned and asked for his expenses to be returned.

It was repaid in installments until March 2017, when it was owed R 62,000. Rajah also represented Manjra and accepted a settlement of 575,000 R.

LPC inspectors noted that Manjra’s attorneys were engaging in a deal that caused him severe financial losses and considered their behavior “unsavory”.

However, attorney Yayah Hassan, who represented the two attorneys, said his clients were senior legal practitioners who had a good reputation with the LPC and intended to defend their reputations.

He said the complainants’ versions were very different from those of their clients, and that the media was not the space to express their differences.

He considered the strike motion premature as the LPC had previously decided to launch an internal investigation on the basis of the complaints. The decision not to proceed with the investigation has not been reversed.

Instead, the matter was referred to the Supreme Court.

Hassan believed that there was no guarantee that the matter would resume in court as the LPC was considering closing an investigation.

He said his clients had every intention to participate in a properly constituted investigation.

Sunday Tribune