Friday, July 24, 2020

Sharemax law firm accused of extortion

Sharemax law firm accused of extortion

Investor ‘living in fear’ of damages action

The Zambezi Mall in Pretoria is one of the syndications in the Sharemax stable. Its law firm, Weavind & Weavind, faces charges of unprofessional conduct.
SHAREMAX attorneys Weavind & Weavind have been accused of attempted extortion and unprofessional conduct, related to a complaint lodged against the law firm with the Law Society of the Northern Provinces by prospective investors in property syndication schemes marketed by Sharemax.
Pierre Hough, a multidisciplinary strategist and investigator of serious economic crime, claims attempts were made to get his client, Toffie Risk, to withdraw his complaint to the law society and the SAPS. Hough said this week that Risk was living in fear over a damages action instituted against him by Weavind & Weavind.
He alleged Weavind & Weavind had made an offer to Risk that if he signed a document and disassociated himself from Hough’s advice and from Hough as a consultant, it would withdraw the damages action against him.
“This is attempted extortion, which is a very serious matter, and unprofessional conduct. It also amounts to attempting to defeat the ends
of justice,” Hough said. Weavind & Weavind today faces a law society disciplinary committee hearing related to an initial complaint made by Hough, Risk and another of Hough’s clients, JMM Bosman. They claim misappropriation of trust funds in Sharemax schemes, by releasing funds from the law firm’s trust account in contravention of a government prohibition.
A R200 000 claim has been lodged with the Attor neys Fidelity Fund as well.
Weavind & Weavind at the time ignored a request from Business Report for comment about the initial complaint.
However, in response to a letter of demand from an attor ney representing 11 other investors in Sharemax schemes, Weavind & Weavind claimed the government prohibition was not applicable to the firm. The law firm subsequently instituted a multimillion-rand damages claim against Risk, Bosman, Hough and his firm, Chase International, for defamation.
Hough said at the time that the claims were an attempt to intimidate his clients.
Weavind & Weavind managing director Raiford Johnson said the allegations of attempted extortion and defeating the ends of justice were extremely serious but neither his firm nor anyone acting on its instructions or with its consent had made any offer, as suggested, to either Bosman or Risk or to anybody acting on behalf of the complainants to the law society.
Johnson said the claims were “totally false, slanderous and obviously made with the intent of causing us (Weavind & Weavind) huge harm”.
Hough said he had lodged a further complaint with the law society last week about the alleged attempted extortion and unprofessional conduct by Weavind & Weavind.
Jaco Fourie, the senior legal official of the disciplinary department at the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, declined to confirm if such a complaint had been lodged. He said a committee of the law society had been provided with certain documentation for the hearing this week and it would consider and discuss them at the hearing.
But, Fourie added, as far as he knew, the people Hough was representing “had withdrawn their complaints” and these allegations now only came from Hough.
Bosman has withdrawn her complaint to the law society while Weavind & Weavind has withdrawn the damages action against her.
Bosman confir med she had contacted Weavind & Weavind and informed the firm she no longer wanted to continue with her complaint.
“I did not have the energy, time or money to continue with it,” she said.
Charle Rossouw, Toffie Risk’s attorney, declined to comment on whether Risk had withdrawn his complaint against Weavind & Weavind.
Rossouw confirmed they had approached Weavind & Weavind after reviewing Risk’s situation in relation to the summons issued against him for damages.
“There were no offers from Weavind & Weavind in that respect and certain discussions followed thereafter but I cannot discuss them,” he said.


Law firm: Summons against Sharemax
14 Jan 2011
Weavind & Weavind, the attorneys acting for Sharemax Investments has launched a R9-million damages claim against Pierre Hough, managing director of Chase International, Chase Consulting, financial planner Toffie Risk and Johanna Margaretha Magdalena Bosman, an investor in Zambezi Retail Park syndication.
The firm is claiming R2-million while its seven directors are each claiming R1-million from Bosman, Hough and Chase Consulting because of damages that they allege were a result of Bosman’s conduct.
In its particulars of claim, Weavind & Weavind list a number of statements alleging that funds deposited into the firm’s trust account had been stolen. The allegations were apparently made in affidavits drafted in support of a complaint to the Law Society of Northern Provinces and a criminal case.
Weavind & Weavind says the allegations are wrongful and defamatory and implied that the directors were implicit in the theft and shared the proceeds. It claims the statements were made with the intention to defame the firm and its directors and injure their reputation.
Hough, who had assisted in compiling the affidavits, said that the damages claim lacked substance and merit and he confirmed that all the respondents named in the Weavind & Weavind application would defend the action.
He said the damages claim was aimed at scaring off other investors in the syndication to prevent them from lodging claims against the law firm.
Jaco Fourie, a senior legal official within the disciplinary department of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces says the organisation is awaiting a response from Hough to the allegations made by Weavind & Weavind. Once it has received the response it will present its evidence to a disciplinary committee of the law society.
A case of fraud was opened against the firm after Sharemax defaulted on monthly payments to investors in September last year. The commercial crimes unit is investigating the case.
Readers' Comments Have a comment about this article? Email us now
It was the illegal release of the trust funds that started the whole feeding frenzy and made a joke of all the investor safeguards provided for in the Unfair Business Practices Act. Go for them Pierre. You have a lot of support out here - how about us starting a fund to pay a bounty on each one of those involved being put behind bars. - L. Oldacre

Hi, lees News 24 van vandag,kyk in watter weelde leef Botha en Brand,hoe kan hulle met die bedrog wegkom terwyl ek en my vrou, altwee pensionarise, van dag tot dag moet leef op genade,ek kan ook my eiendom verloor,het nie meer n inkomste nie en ons leef op R2,000 n maand.Mense,hoe werk die wet dat skelms ons geld kan vat en daarmee gegkom?Ek wat n leek is weet nie watter kant toe nie,het probeer werk kry maar is te oud,het 10 jaar terug n hartomleining gehad.Het ook nie geld om n saak te maak nie,glo nie dit sou in alle geval gehelp het nie.WAT kan ek doen,groete. - Willem

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