Singh struck off roll

2014-04-02 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG attorney Sundeep Singh was finally struck off the roll of attorneys in the high court yesterday for the second time.

Singh, who was suspended from practising as an attorney in February this year, had initially given notice that he intended to oppose the KZN Law Society’s application to strike him from the roll, but he withdrew his opposition ahead of yesterday’s hearing.

The order was therefore granted by consent yesterday.

Singh stands accused in court papers of stealing R876 736,50 from a widow, Radha Govender, who was due to receive the money from the Road Accident Fund.

Singh is also accused of falsifying bank documents and presenting them to the law society.

Asked yesterday to comment on whether or not criminal charges were laid against Singh, KZN Law Society director, Gavin John replied, “The Attorneys Fidelity Fund is currently investigating claims and, depending on the outcome thereof, may refer the matter to the Commercial Crimes Unit for investigation.”

This is the second time in his career that Singh has been struck off the roll of attorneys for theft of trust funds.

In November 1993, he was also struck off for stealing R249 000 in trust funds due to the estate of the late K.R. Singh.

Singh owned up to the theft and repaid the stolen money. He initially fled to India with his family to escape criminal charges, but had a change of heart and returned voluntarily to South Africa in December 1993 to face trial.

After pleading guilty, he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, of which three years were suspended. The sentence was later converted to correctional supervision.

In his affidavit in support of his application to be re-enrolled as an attorney in 2002, Singh said he’d been so ashamed of what he did, he wanted to “hide in the darkest corner of the earth” to be away from anyone who knew him.

Pearl Arnold-Mfusi of the KZN Law Society said in an affidavit that Singh appeared not to have changed his ways at all despite his claim to have been rehabilitated.

She alleged that the law society had evidence that he stole R876 736,50 that was paid into his trust account by the Road Accident Fund on behalf of his client, Radha Govender, as far back as 2009.

He also allegedly committed fraud by falsifying bank statements, which were shown to members of the society’s committee investigating the complaint against him.

Arnold-Mfusi said it was alleged that Singh (then working for Neven Singh and Associates) was mandated in 2007 to pursue a claim against the RAF on behalf of Govender and her three children after her husband was killed in a car accident. Singh later took over the file when he moved to his own practice.

He allegedly failed to inform Govender when the money was paid into his trust account on July 31, 2009, and created the impression that there were delays in the matter.

When Govender discovered his alleged deception in May last year, Singh allegedly offered to repay the money, but subsequently failed to do so.

The society alleges further that during the course of their investigations into Govender’s complaint, he gave them fictitious copies of bank statements he claimed were from First National Bank. These falsely reflected that the money paid by the RAF had been placed into an interest-bearing investment account.

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