Lawyer ‘used homeless man’s R560 000 RAF payout’ — Law Society

2016-02-11 11:00
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Pietermaritzburg - The KwaZulu-Natal Law Society is seeking to strike off Durban attorney Subashnie Moodley in connection with allegations that she misappropriated R560 000 paid out to a homeless man, Theodore Minnie, by the Road Accident Fund in 2013.

Minnie since died in a fire, and it was subsequently discovered that he had left a will bequeathing his estate to Moodley.

However, in a new affidavit filed in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday, Moodley said she had instructed her attorney to withdraw any claim she may have as a beneficiary of Minnie’s estate.

Moodley is currently defending the case, which came before Judge Anton van Zyl and Judge Daya Pillay for the hearing of oral evidence.

In an affidavit filed on Wednesday afternoon, Moodley admitted that after claiming a contingency fee, she had “borrowed” money from Minnie without him being independently represented in the transaction, a contravention of Law Society rules.

She says, however, Minnie had told her that he knew his ex-wife — Vijayluxmi “Rebecca” Gengan (who lodged a complaint against Moodley in respect of the money) — wanted the proceeds of the RAF claim paid out to her.

Moodley said Minnie was “fearful of the complainant [Gengan]”.

“He [Minnie] was concerned that if he was paid the proceeds, he would suffer the same fate as another beggar who had been paid out a large sum of money, which he squandered and he was still a beggar. For this reason he asked me to keep the money for him until he decided what to do,” she said.

Moodley said she then suggested to Minnie that he could lend her the money for a year, and she would repay it with interest. “He agreed to this and said he would be better off if the money was tied up. I told him he had to get independent legal advice before he could do this, but he flatly refused,” she said.

Moodley said she accepted his view, but with “hindsight” realised she should not have done so. “I now recognise this was wrong. I will never contravene this rule again if I am ever confronted with a similar situation in the future,” she said. Moodley also admitted in her affidavit that she had contravened other rules by paying business and private debts from her trust account.

“Again with the benefit of hindsight, I know that I ought to have transferred the loan from Mr Minnie into my business account and not into my trust account. I appreciate that it is critical to keep my business and trust accounts separate, and that the two should not at any stage be merged,” she said.

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