Lawyer convicted of $400K fraud
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.