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Monday, October 14, 2019

Bar Council: Tell us if you know of any dirty lawyers


Malaysian Bar Council president Datuk Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor. – NORAFIFI EHSAN/The Star
PETALING JAYA: The Bar Council urges the public to lodge complaints on dishonest or fraudulent lawyers with its Disciplinary Board.
This followed reports that 21 ex-lawyers are wanted by police for allegedly being involved in cheating and criminal breach of trust cases nationwide.
Bar Council president Datuk Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said any dishonest or fraudulent conduct by lawyers falls under section 94(3) of the Legal Profession Act 1976 (LPA).
"For the more serious misconduct, the advocate and solicitor can be suspended from practice for any period not exceeding five years or struck off the Roll, pursuant to section 94(2) of the LPA.
"These punishments are meted out by the Disciplinary Board, an independent board established under section 93 of the LPA, for the purposes of administering disciplinary proceedings," he said in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 15).
Abdul Fareed said the LPA allows the Bar Council to intervene into firms in instances of dishonesty and also provides for the setting up of the Compensation Fund, which provides some relief to persons who have sustained losses as a result of the dishonesty of an advocate and solicitor.
He said a person who has sustained a loss as a result of the dishonesty of an advocate and solicitor can make an application for a grant from the Compensation Fund, if they fulfilled the criteria.
It was reported that the 21 lawyers were involved in 39 cheating and CBT cases involving some RM30.4mil.
Bukit Aman Commercial Crimes Investigation Department director Comm Datuk Seri Mohd Zakaria Ahmad had said eight of the lawyers were set to be charged for the offences, five were believed to be overseas, while the rest were needed to assist in investigations.
Abdul Fareed noted that in the case of the 21 former lawyers, 15 have been struck off the roll of advocates and solicitors, while four did not renew their annual practising certificates.
He said another two had never been members of the Malaysian Bar.
"Of the 19 firms involved, the Bar Council has intervened into 17 firms," he said.
Abdul Fareed also said under section 88A or 94(4) of the LPA, the Bar Council can take action against an advocate and solicitor who is guilty of dishonesty by applying to the Court or the Disciplinary Board for an order to suspend the advocate and solicitor from practice.
"The Bar Council will then lodge a complaint against the advocate and solicitor at the Disciplinary Board, and if needed, intervene into the firm," he said.
In intervention proceedings, Abdul Fareed said an intervener solicitor under section 88(1) of the LPA can proceed to take control of the files or documents of a firm and instruct the bank concerned to freeze the clients' accounts to enable a full investigation and audit to be conducted.
"The Bar Council takes its regulatory role of protecting members of the public very seriously and will always endeavour to do whatever it can within the powers given to it, under the LPA.
"The Malaysian Bar wishes to reiterate that we will brook no dishonesty in our profession and we will do our utmost to root it out. Dishonest lawyers are a blemish on the legal profession and their actions tarnish the many honest and hardworking members of the profession," he said.- Star

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