'Dodgy' Bobroffs bedding down in Australia

JOHANNESBURG: Having fled South Africa in Marchs, embattled father and son lawyers Ronald and Darren Bobroff appear to be settling down for the long haul in Australia, after recently purchasing a R26 million house in Sydney.

The father and son, as well as Darren’s wife Lisa, quickly sold their law firm, Ronald Bobroff & Partners, allegedly after receiving a tip-off that the duo were going to be arrested on money-laundering charges involving tens of millions of rand.

Days later, the high court in Pretoria granted a curatorship order after it was revealed that the Bobroffs’ firm had accrued almost R30m spread over a number of bank accounts, and that the Road Accident Fund (RAF) was set to pay a further R45m to it.

This happened after the Law Society of the Northern Provinces conducted an audit, revealing gross financial irregularities at the firm.

This week, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku confirmed that the organisation had instituted extradition proceedings against the Bobroffs to ensure they would stand trial for their alleged crimes.

But this apparently hasn’t stopped the Bobroff family from trying to make a new life in Australia, with Darren recently registering as a director of a real estate company, REB Properties. The same company has been linked through property records to the purchase of a $2.53m (Australian) home in Sydney, sold to the company in June.

The four-bedroom, three-
bathroom home boasts a designer kitchen, large swimming pool and garden. However, Bobroff family lawyer David Bayliss this week denied the purchase of the home and the registering of the company.

When sent queries on whether the Bobroffs planned to return to South Africa or were remaining in Australia, he responded: “In response to your mail below I am instructed that the allegations are factually incorrect. Unfortunately, I cannot comment further.”

He was also unwilling to comment on the extradition proceedings.

The investigation into the Bobroffs’ firm dated back to 2011 when the RAF received numerous complaints from claimants represented by the firm.

In February this year, the Law Society of the Northern Provinces allegedly found evidence the two lawyers had overcharged accident victims in claims against the RAF.

In one instance, Bobroff & Partners had represented Jennifer and Matthew Graham, who were charged more than the Contingency Fees Act allowed.

They complained to the Law Society in 2011 that they had been overcharged.

Matthew Graham had suffered brain injuries in a 2006 accident and Bobroff & Partners obtained a R1.9m settlement and a cost of R300 000 from the RAF.

While the Contingency Fees Act restricted lawyers fees to 30 percent of any award paid out, the Grahams were only paid R1.1m. The Bobroffs allegedly kept the remaining 40 percent of the settlement (R860 000) and the R300 000 for legal fees.