Harare Lawyer Barred For Three Years For Receiving Kickbacks
Harare lawyer Sifiso Mugadza has been barred from legal practice for three years by the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), reported The Herald.
Mugadza pleaded guilty to unprofessional conduct when he appeared before the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal, chaired by High Court Judge Justice David Mangota.
David Kanokanga and Sarah Moyo were the other members of the panel.
Mugadza’s law firm was placed under curatorship for the same three years so his other clients do not suffer from his enforced absence.
LSZ had sought the de-registration of Mugadza but imposed a lesser penalty after he admitted to the charges.
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Allegations were that Mugadza practiced under Madanhi, Mugadza and Company Attorneys At Law, in Harare and the law firm was on a panel of law firms used by CBZ and its associated companies.
He would be allocated debt collection and conveyancing work by the bank.
Between July 2016 and October 2018 and on several occasions, Mugadza entered into an illicit deal with Noah Munaki, CBZ’s former manager in charge of recoveries, where the lawyer would pay him 15 to 20 percent of his earned fees.
The payments to Munaki were kickbacks for work allocated to Mugadza.
It was established that during that period a total of 32 payments amounting to US$434 698 were made to Munaki.
The payments were made from Mugadza’s trust account, business, or personal account into the bank account of Munaki’s wife, Coderius Matore.
Mugadza submitted a 10-page mitigation to move the tribunal “not to put his neck under the guillotine”.
In his remarks before sentencing the lawyer, Justice Mangota said his conduct undermined public confidence in the legal profession and his moral blameworthiness was very high. He said:
The respondent (Mugadza) is suspended from practicing as a legal practitioner, notary public, and conveyancer for a period of three years.
Mugadza’s law firm will be placed under curatorship for it to continue as a going concern.
The illicit deal between Munaki and Mugadza came to light in 2018 after the bank received an anonymous tip-off.
Munaki was found to be involved in underhand dealings with several of the law firms on the CBZ panel of legal services providers.
Mugadza’s firm was one of the firms involved.
The Law Society of Zimbabwe is responsible for representing and regulating how lawyers and law firms operate in Zimbabwe.
Its membership is drawn from all registered legal practitioners in Zimbabwe in private practice, commerce and civil service.
It is the duty of LSZ to ensure, as far as it is able, that its members measure up to the high standards required of them.
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