Lawyer con­victed of $400K fraud

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Charleen Ndlovu Sun­day News Reporter

A BU­L­AWAYO lawyer who de­frauded more than $400 000 from 41 clients within a pe­riod of two years was on Fri­day con­victed of fraud.

Les­lie Bhekimpilo Sibanda who was once em­ployed at Webb, Low and Barry Le­gal Prac­ti­tion­ers was con­victed by Bu­l­awayo re­gional mag­is­trate Mr Joseph Mabeza af­ter a full trial on Fri­day. Mr Mabeza re­manded Sibanda in cus­tody to 9 Novem­ber for sen­tenc­ing. In his de­fence, Sibanda had claimed that he resti­tuted one of his clients $50 000. The court has since asked him to pro­duce proof of the resti­tu­tion.

The State’s case is that Sibanda was em­ployed as an at­tor­ney by Webb, Law and Barry in­cor­po­rat­ing Ben Baron and Le­gal Part­ners and be­tween 8 Jan­uary 2014 to 1 July 2016. Sibanda was al­legedly steal­ing and scam­ming clients of money that adds up to $404 367.

Pros­e­cu­tor Mr Charles Danda said that Sibanda would al­legedly call for and with­draw money out of a client’s trust ac­count.

He would pay part of the money to the client and pocket the dif­fer­ence or he would re­quest for cash from the petty cash ac­count al­leg­ing that it was money for trans­port or other an­cil­lar­ies on be­half of a client when a client had not given him such in­struc­tions.

Mr Danda told the court that Sibanda would also trans­fer funds from one’s client ac­count by means of a trans­fer jour­nal into an­other client’s ac­count when the client’s ac­counts were not re­lated in any way. On one oc­ca­sion he used the law firm as a se­cu­rity to guar­an­tee pay­ment for a loan he ac­quired from Wils­grove En­ter­prise Pri­vate Lim­ited.

Sibanda is said to have run out of luck when he moved money from the law firm’s ac­count into a Mr Dae­mon’s ac­count to set­tle a debt. Sev­eral lawyers have of late been dragged to court for swin­dling their clients of thou­sands of dol­lars lead­ing to some be­ing de-reg­is­tered by the Law So­ci­ety of Zim­babwe.

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