Harare Lawyer Kamdefwere faces deregistration over missing US$50,000 client funds

Moment of reckoning… Moses Kamdefwere’s future now lies in the hands of the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) after he was found guilty of misconduct by a tribunal.
By Staff Reporter
HARARE – Lawyer Moses Kamdefwere faces deregistration after a tribunal chaired by High Court judge Justice Felistus Chatukuta found him guilty of abusing a client’s trust funds totaling US$49,690.39.
Kamdefwere is a senior partner at Mugurungi & Kamdefwere Legal Practitioners in Harare.
A probe was instituted into his conduct following complaints by his client, Golden Million Engineering Private Limited.
The battle between attorney and client had raged for five years with Kamdefwere refusing to take responsibility and blaming a consultant at his law firm, Nyasha Mapanzure.
But the tribunal held him accountable saying he was the sole signatory to their bank account.
His fate likely deregistration now lies in the hands of the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), which will serve punishment.
The panel found that while Kamdefwere had an obligation “to pay promptly” funds deposited into his trust account by Golden Million Engineering Private Limited, he unlawfully withheld payment.
Court papers show that the LSZ received a complaint in October 2017 from the engineering company represented by Admire Saweto.
The company had instructed Kamdefwere to recover US$362,660.73 from Metallon Gold, which he succeeded in doing after litigation.
The tribunal further heard that the amount was deposited into Mugurungi & Kamdefwere Legal Practitioners’ account.
A total of US$301,343.73 was remitted to the complainant in three installments over a period of 18 days while an amount of US$11,626.61 was said to have gone towards bank charges and legal fees. The rest went missing.
Kamdefwere, in his defense, blamed Mapanzure but Justice Chatukuta would not have any of it, telling him he was just scapegoating.
“The respondent was the senior partner and sole signatory to the account. It was, therefore, his sole responsibility to ensure that trust monies were remitted to the intended beneficiary,” the judge said.
“The outstanding balance remained unpaid five years after the full amount was paid into the firm’s trust account. This was contrary to the by-law 70E which requires that an amount due to a client must be paid within a reasonable time.”
Justice Chatukuta said the five-year delay in paying the company was inexcusable.
“It is, therefore, our finding that the applicant proved that the respondent’s conduct was unprofessional, dishonourable, unworthy, and unbefitting of a legal practitioner,” the judge ruled.
“The applicant be and is hereby directed to file submissions on sentence on or before May 28 2021 and serve same on the respondent on or before the same date.”
The tribunal informed Kamdefwere he had until June 1 to respond if he so wished.
 

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