Liquidators’ lawyer ‘wasn’t authorised to act’
Business Report can today reveal that attorney Johannes “John” Walker, who is close friends with embattled deputy master of the high court Christene Rossouw, was not registered with the law society at the time of the transaction.
The Law Society of the Northern Provinces, in a letter dated May 18, 2016, stated that fidelity fund certificates for Walker were issued for the periods ending December 31, 2012, December 31, 2013 and December 31, 2014.
It appears that the society did not issue any certificates to Walker for 2011 and 2015. Walker has said he started working on the Pamodzi matter in 2011 to conduct the insolvency inquiry.
The letter stated that, in terms of legislation, it was an offence to practise without a fidelity fund certificate.
According to section 41 of the Attorneys Act, a practitioner shall not practise or act as a practitioner on his own account or in partnership unless he is in possession of a fidelity fund certificate, and that those contravening it shall not be entitled to any fee, reward or disbursement “in respect of anything done by him while so practising or acting”.
“The provisions of section 41 of the Act are clearly peremptory and any attorney practising without a fidelity certificate clearly contravenes the provisions of this section.”
Section 83 (10) of the legislation states: “The Act also states that those practising without a fidelity fund certificate shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction liable to a fine not exceeding R2000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or to both ”
Walker is close to Rossouw, who played a prominent role in the appointment of the Pamodzi liquidators, and the removal of joint liquidators Enver Motala and Gavin Gainsford from the estate, which includes gold mines in Gauteng and North West.
Walker also represented Rossouw in her divorce in 2013, and together with joint Pamodzi liquidator Deon Botha, have attended social events and taken photographs together.
Liquidators fall under Rossouw’s domain and are answerable to her for their conduct, highlighting an alleged conflict of interest, but she has denied any wrongdoing.
A source said: “He (Walker) charged for his services as an attorney when he should not have done so, as he had acted without the required fidelity fund certificate, and the millions that he has charged would have to be paid back.
"Naturally, due to the alleged close relationship between Walker, Christene Rossouw, Johan Engelbrecht and Deon Botha, Walker has allegedly acted with impunity.”
The source said it was a serious breach of fiduciary duties for liquidators and Rossouw to allow such a situation.
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development spokesperson Steve Mahlangu said Walker was not appointed as a liquidator in the matter.
“He is the attorney of the liquidators, and we have no say in whom is appointed and have no relationship with the attorney,” said Mahlangu.
“Neither the department nor the master’s office would have any knowledge of his standing with the Law Society, as he is an attorney over which we have no control.”
The society could not immediately be reached for comment.
Walker didn’t respond to a set of detailed questions emailed to him, save to say: “Your facts are wrong. I have no further comment."