The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) froze a mammoth R101 million in cash that personal injury lawyers Ronald and Darren Bobroff hid in two Israeli bank accounts. This money is deemed as proceeds of crime and was therefore illegally transferred to the Israeli accounts.
The Bobroffs absconded to Sydney in Australia in March last year after the Hawks requested them to hand themselves in. 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 National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said in a statement that the freezing order followed “excellent cooperation” between South African and Israeli authorities.
Luvuyo Mfaku, spokesperson for the NPA, said an extradition order has not been issued as the police investigation has not been completed, and that the charge sheet has not yet been finalised. “It is important that the investigation is complete and that the charge sheet is complete, as no further charges can be added once the extradition order has been issued.”
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, was not immediately available to comment on the status of the police investigation.
The AFU states that the Bobroffs transferred a “substantial” amount of money to an investment account, which was not reflected as a trust creditor account in the father and son’s legal practice (RBP).
“The money in the investment account provided the Bobroffs with an opportunity to avoid the taxation of the interest earned on the monies invested as well as with an opportunity to launder funds without being detected,” the statement read.
The order to freeze the R101 million was issued in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, which targets assets that are the proceeds of crime.
The R101 million will remain frozen until the NPA applies for a final order that will see the money being forfeited to the state. The money will remain in Israel until the finalisation of the forfeiture proceedings.
The AFU states that the money in the bank accounts was initially frozen by the Israeli authorities after they became suspicious about transactions being conducted on the accounts by the Bobroffs.
The Bobroffs have already been disbarred by the Law Society of the Northern Provinces and were provisionally sequestrated in March.
They also did not respond to an email requesting comment on the freezing of the money prior to publication.