South Africa 19.5.2017 08:14 pm

Former attorney in court for alleged theft of trust funds

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng

Claims amounting to R6 441 657 have been lodged against the attorney’s Fidelity Fund.

An attorney specialising in claims against the Road Accident Fund became increasingly concerned about complaints that claimants had not received their RAF payments, a court in Cape Town heard on Friday.

Attorney Paul Davids testified at the trial of former attorney Eslin Frank Meyer, who has pleaded not guilty, before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg, to charges of theft and failure to keep proper accounting records.

Meyer, 60, had practised in Mitchell’s Plain and Gordon’s Bay as Eslin Meyer Attorneys, until he was interdicted from practising by the Western Cape High Court, after claims amounting to R6 441 657 had been lodged against the Attorney’s Fidelity Fund.

Meyer had in fact engaged Davids as a professional assistant, in charge of the firm’s department dealing with Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) claims against the RAF.

Questioned by State advocate Tommy Bunguzana, of the Western Cape Directorate for Public Prosecutions, Davids explained RAF claim procedures.

He said claims included the fees of medical practitioners who had treated clients for serious injuries sustained in motor collisions.

RAF payments were paid into the firm’s trust bank account, and would be paid to claimants after all the legal fees and disbursements had been deducted, he told the court.

Davids said Meyer was the firm’s trust account holder, and Davids himself had no access to the account.

Davids was questioned extensively by legal aid attorney Harley Cloete.

He said the MVA claim section ran smoothly under his control, until complaints about non-payment of claims started in the year 2007.

Davids added: “As the head of the department, I was the person with whom claimants had to liaise.

“By the year 2009, complaints became hectic, which made it difficult for me to perform my duties properly.”

Questioned by the magistrate, Davids said there was never any “bad blood” between himself and Meyer, and that he had no reason to deliberately malign Meyer.

He said he felt unhappy about the complaints, as they affected his ability to do his work.

He added: “The accused is in fact a good-hearted person.”

The case continues on June 1.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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