Call for Bobroff claims, extradition planned
The curator of personal injury lawyer Ronald Bobroff & Partners Incorporated (RBP) is working towards winding up the practice after the firm’s two key directors, father and son Ronald and Darren Bobroff, fled to Australia in March.
Johan van Staden, head of member affairs at the Law Society of the Northern Provinces (LSNP), was appointed curator of RBP soon after the pair skipped the country, facing arrest by the SA Police Service’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) on charges of overcharging victims for claims against the Road Accident Fund (RAF).
Van Staden told Jewish Report that clients of the practice who have won RAF awards and remain unpaid, will be paid their settlements – and that they may have their legal fees reduced if they had been overcharged by the firm.
This is due to the maximum fee which attorneys may charge for contingency fees (so-called no-win-no-pay) being 25 per cent of the settlement awarded. This was confirmed by the highest courts in the land, against the protestations of the Bobroffs.
The father and son pair absconded to Australia after being informed by the Hawks that they should present themselves for arrest on charges of fraud and money laundering, and possible theft of money that should have been held in trust. They agreed to do so in three days but absconded during that time – but not before allegedly depositing millions of rand into the cheque account of Elaine Bobroff, wife of Ronald. Elaine maintains she did not know about the transfers.
Elaine is being presented with a prestigious award from the Jewish Women’s Benevolent Society (JWBS) for 40 years’ service this month. The JWBS is a 110-year-old organisation that works closely with the Chevrah Kadisha.
The state is now poised to institute extradition proceedings against the two Bobroffs for fraud and money laundering. Having inspected RBP’s books, Van Staden’s team have added contraventions of the Income Tax Act, the VAT Act, the Companies Act, the Attorneys Act and the Rules of the Law Society to the litany of other charges.
A highly placed source, who cannot be named, told Jewish Report two weeks ago that the amount of money overcharged, missing, misappropriated or due in unpaid taxes by RBP had passed the R1billion mark last month.
The Hawks referred the question of whether this figure was correct (the last reliable figure Jewish Report had was R550 million) to the NPA. “At this stage the NPA is not in a position to confirm the amount of funds till all investigations are finalised,” the NPA’s regional spokesman for Gauteng, Phindi Louw, had said in response at the time.
The NPA opened their own investigation in early May, adding to those already being conducted by the Hawks; the Law Society of the Northern Provinces; the curator of the now-defunct legal practice; the Justice and Correctional Services Department; and the SA Revenue Services (SARS).
The Road Accident Fund also started combing through all their prior cases which involved the Bobroffs in March and, in just the first week, laid almost 20 charges with the NPA, claiming that the errant lawyers had billed them, the RAF, for appointments supposedly held with clients – who subsequently denied that those meetings in fact took place.
- Johan van Staden can be contacted at (012) 316-0600.