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Law Society files damning audit report against Bobroffs

Report alleges fraud, tax evasion and the overcharging of RAF victims.

The Law Society of the Northern Provinces (LSNP) last week filed a damning forensic audit report in the Pretoria High Court, following a recent intensive investigation into the business practices of Gauteng personal injury law firm Ronald Bobroff & Partners (RBP). The affidavit and report – by two chartered accountants – form part of on-going litigation, in which road accident victim Matthew Graham and his wife Jennifer allege that RBP overcharged them and in which they have been asking for an accounting from the Bobroffs for almost five years.

Read: Mr Bobroff, open your books

The affidavit alleges, “The Bobroffs’ trust banking account lost its identity” and the report concludes by saying that RBP “does pose a risk to trust creditors of the firm”.

Attorneys have a business account for their own money and a trust account for their clients’ money. The Attorneys Fidelity Fund insures money in the latter and the most grievous professional sin that an attorney can commit is to confuse his clients’ money with his own.

Read: Did Ronald Bobroff cook the books?

The report

The affidavit and the 136-page report detail extensive breaches of the Attorneys Act and rules by RBP and its directors, as well as the massive overcharging of road accident and medical negligence victims, false bookkeeping entries, theft of client funds, tax evasion and VAT fraud. Ronald Bobroff and his son, Darren, are named in the report as is director Stephen Bezuidenhout.

Key findings

  • The Bobroffs employed various tactics to unlawfully reduce [their] income tax and VAT liabilities.”
  • The Bobroffs failed to ensure that trust monies were kept separate from other monies.”
  • The Bobroffs failed to ensure that, when making a transfer from their trust banking account to their business banking account, that the amount transferred was identifiable and did not exceed the amount due to the firm.”
  • The Bobroffs failed to ensure that withdrawals from their trust banking account were made only to or for or on behalf of trust creditors of the firm or as transfers to their business bank account in respect of fees or disbursements due to the firm.”
  • The Bobroffs failed to pay amounts due to clients within a reasonable time.”
  • The Bobroffs failed to pay the reasonable fees and disbursements of other practitioners, medical practitioners and other experts within a reasonable time.”
  • The Bobroffs made themselves guilty of unprofessional, dishonourable or unworthy conduct by overreaching clients.”
  • The Bobroffs failed to retain their accounting records for a period of five years.”

Blame the bookkeeper

The Bobroffs claim that a vendetta is being waged against them and have laid blame at the feet of all and sundry including their former bookkeeper, Bernadine van Wyk, who, in 2012, deposed to an explosive affidavit detailing wrongdoing by the Bobroffs and RBP.

Ronald Bobroff told the LSNP auditors that it was Van Wyk who told him to hide their own money in the firm’s trust account. The auditors noted: “It would also seem unusual that the directors of the firm, whom have a substantial amount of experience in running a practice and administering a trust account, would merely rely and act on the advice of their bookkeeper whom is not a tax specialist.”

Overcharging of clients

In every client file scrutinised by the auditors, overcharging by RBP was revealed. The report says that the Bobroffs had entered into multiple fee agreements with clients. There would usually be three agreements signed with each client. One would be the unlawful common law contingency fee agreement. Another would be a mandate in terms of which client would be charged on an hourly basis. The third would be the agreement in terms of the Contingency Fees Act (CFA). The first two agreements would be used by the Bobroffs to ‘reverse engineer’ the firms fees so that the hourly fees, when added up, would equal the 30% that firm was to take as its contingency fee. The CFA was presented to a Judge when a settlement agreement with the Road Accident Fund or medical negligence insurer was made an order of court so that the judge would believe that the firm had complied with the law relating to contingency fees when it had not.


The report names two whistleblowers who made disclosures in terms of the Protected Disclosures Act. The affidavits and disclosures of Berndaine van Wyk and Cora van der Merwe feature prominently in the report and are corroborated by the auditors.

Van der Merwe came to Moneyweb to blow the whistle on the Bobroffs.

Moneyweb sent the LSNP affidavit and report to Van Wyk and Van der Merwe who issued a joint statement in which they said that although they had to endure public disparagement by the Bobroffs, they had done the right thing and had now been vindicated by the LSNP audit team. Both expressed disappointment at the rest of the staff at RBP who knew what was going on but were not prepared to say or do anything about it.

Filipe Pombo

One of the former RBP clients that Moneyweb tried to track two years ago is Filipe Pombo. His matter features in Van Wyk’s affidavit and in the report. We alleged that Darren Bobroff had forged his father’s signature on an RBP cheque made out to “F Pombo” for R115 600. The Bobroffs denied this.

The report confirms Moneyweb’s conclusion at the time: “The inspectors’ view is that the depositing of the abovementioned cheque into Darren Bobroff’s personal account was intentional. The monies due to Pombo were only repaid to him two years later. This does not negate the initial misappropriation of Pombo’s monies.”

The Grahams attorney, George van Niekerk, told Moneyweb: “We are vindicated at last by the findings of the inspectors into the Bobroff practice. It shows that the Bobroffs are not fit to practice and should be struck from the Roll of Attorneys.”

The Attorneys Fidelity Fund told Moneyweb that it was monitoring developments in the Bobroff matter and taking legal advice. “We are unable to provide further information at this stage.”

The Bobroffs had not commented at the time of publication.

The matter will be argued in the Pretoria High Court from March 14-16.

Read the Law Society Affidavit and Report.


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Nail them AND jail them. They don’t deserve any leniency whatsoever and MUST suffer, but, unfortunately, they will not suffer as much as their victims.

Send them too jail. What they have been doing to their clients in the name of justice will be done to them in jail in the name of revenge.

Surely these are not the only attorneys guilty of these practices.
Who would be protecting the public against these scoundrels?
What can be learned from this, and are new measures being advocated/implemented to prevent this from happening in future?
Could the Law Society be entrusted with this?

They cover and support each other. Much like the politicians do. We need an alternative and effective legal system here that works like kangaroo courts for people like this.

And don’t forget the doctors who more often than not support fellow professionals or refuse to judge malpractice among their own. Now just like the politicians, when there is no place left to hide, (like Zuma faced with the Con Court) suddenly the book gets thrown at the baddies by the Law Society. During the early days of the Moneyweb articles the LSNP seemed quite aloof at the allegations. Guess they were hoping they would simply disappear. Now the Bobroffs find themselves under the bus. Problem is that we need lawyers and doctors, unlike politicians. The world needs to unite and get rid of the parasites who add little or no value to any society. We need a new world order, with countries run by constitutions. This will never happen (not in my lifetime at least) though because politicians hold the levers of power supported by the mega wealthy. Looking at the choice the USA has it would take little to convince the non-brainwashed that they have nothing to lose by not having a president. In SA it goes without saying. Sorry for the digression.

These so called attorneys have featured so often in questionable issues. If there is a law society with teeth they would have nabbed them before. It seems that the legal fraternity are much like their colleagues in the medical fraternity in that they hide and cover for each other. In the medical fraternity, they bury their mistakes. In the legal fraternity, they keep appealing and billing until the client is broke. Time to bring back the kangaroo court system because the justice system in South Africa certainly is not working.

Nail and jail these rotters. NO BAIL for repeat offenders.

Ronald Bobroff, Darren Bobroff and Stephen Bezuidenhout would have been nailed and jailed had they been driving the cars that injured and maimed the MVA victims their firm took for a ride. Instead they have been allowed to grow rich on blood money, while former clients struggle to survive the impact of their dealings with RBP. There was a time when I only questioned why they were still in practice, now I wonder why they are not behind bars. I hope that copies of the LSNP report will find their way to every Law Society to which they belong to prevent them from practising law in other countries. Perhaps the report should also be read as a bedtime story to their children and grandchildren as a lesson on how never to conduct their lives. Sadly the Ronald and Darren will learn very little from this damning exposure and no doubt Darren will continue using social media as a platform to vilify every individual, corporation and publication that dared to disseminate the truth

Absolutely not.
This is the tip of the VERY BIG iceberg.
Attorneys have been guilty of this for decades!

This exposes – once again – the INHERENT wrongness of allowing a group to self- discipline its own members.

It does not matter whether it is groups of lawyers, doctors, politicians, real-estate agents, financial advisers, or motor car dealers.

The outcome is always the same: while professing to protect their customer, they close ranks and protect their own first. And that is always their only genuine underlying interest. Protecting the customer always comes a very distant second to this.

The behaviour of all the parties in this scandal – especially the Law Society – appears to be disgusting and immoral. The members of this Law Society should be sentenced alongside the Bobroffs – and given the SAME sentance. Nothing less than a jail sentence (and NONE of it suspended either!) seems to be equitable.

The simple solution for all these ill-behaved disciplinary committees is that they should also have an equal number of members drawn from the CLIENTS of the industry. And the Chairman – with the casting vote – should be a client representative – NOT an industry member.

It’s very doubtful that these societies will agree to this (which immediately proves the problem), so this is a change that Parliament should ram through despite their inevitable protestations.

This time the blame lies in the heart of the RBP Practice – the Directors and their unqualified bookkeeper/office manager, Tascha

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