Forfeiture of Bobroffs' stolen millions ordered
The Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) has ordered the forfeiture of around R101m hidden in two Israeli bank accounts by fugitive personal injury lawyers Ronald and Darren Bobroff as it found the money to be the proceeds of crime, according to leading investigative reporter Tony Beamish in a report on the Moneyweb site.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) froze the money in 2017 after the Bobroffs fled to Sydney to evade the Hawks. They may face a range of criminal charges related to the overcharging of their clients through illegal fee agreements, tax evasion, theft, money laundering and fraud.
The Bobroffs claimed they had taken advantage of a Reserve Bank Exchange Control Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (SVDP), which came into operation in February 2016, to transfer money from SA. They received approval in December 2018.
It is unclear whether the SVDP application was made before the July 2017 freezing order. The report notes that no mention is made of the Bobroffs’ substantial assets in Australia and elsewhere or at what stage the SA authorities are at with these investigations.
Judge Gcina Malindi found that ‘the point that the Bobroffs miss is that the SVDP applies only to lawfully earned money’ that had been taken out of the country.
More damningly, observed the judge, ‘the supplementary affidavit on its own version discloses a pattern of expropriation of funds that Pretoria Judge Natu Ranchod found to be the proceeds of unlawful activities’.
Malindi found that evidence before the court showed that it was not merely a failure to adhere to the rules, and pointed out that there were a host of other judgments and ‘established facts’ that demonstrated that the Bobroffs were serial offenders when it came to the pillaging of their personal injury clients’ monies.
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