SOUTH AFRICA, CAPE TOWN – A Cape Town lawyer has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crimes Court for defrauding his clients with Road Accident Fund (RAF) claims.
The 53-year-old owner of BA Bauman Attorneys, Brian Albertus Bauman, from Bellville specialised in RAF claims and used the R14.8 million he defrauded for his gambling addiction.
The spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Eric Ntabazalila, said the court ordered an investigation to be conducted to determine whether assets could be confiscated from Bauman.
Ntabazalila said Bauman was obliged to open a hold and trust account for his practice and confessed that he received more than R24.4 million on behalf of his clients from the RAF but only paid out R6.7 million, pocketing the rest.
“Bauman confessed that after electronic transfers were made by RAF into his practice’s trust account, he totally failed to pay monies that were due to his clients or paid them fewer amounts than what was due to them,” prosecutor Advocate Siphokazi Makanda told the court.
She said Bauman’s actions undermined the image and integrity of the legal profession and that he had shown the worst form of disregard for the rule of law.
Makanda said he went forth mercilessly defrauding his clients who suffered severe body injuries and were compensated by the RAF to improve their quality of life.
“He continued with his criminal actions against his clients even after charges were laid against him, proving a total lack of remorse for his actions.
“As a result, the Attorney Fidelity Fund was bombarded with claims of considerable amounts from all angles due to the accused’s greed and dishonesty,” she said.
Bauman, a divorcee with three children, told the court he had a gambling addiction and blew the bulk of the money gambling at casinos across the country but said he was receiving help for his addiction and attending gambling anonymous meetings.
In consultation with the Asset Forfeiture Unit, the state applied for the confiscation order of Bauman’s property and assets.
The court ordered that on May 5, 2021, the state had to submit a statement outlining the value of Bauman’s proceeds from his illegal activities and any information the court may need to reach a decision.
Bauman was also ordered to give a statement that included a schedule of assets or property he held and its current value.
The state and defence were to submit heads of arguments in September 2021, and a confiscation hearing will be held in October 2021.