By Spy Uganda
Kampala: It remains unpredictable when multi-billion fraud matters spearheaded by popular businessman Karim Hirji against his stepchildren who accuse him of allegedly grabbing and selling their late mother Ziba Nanyonga Hirji’s estates, both in Uganda and in the United Kingdom will be resolved after they have escalated to United Kingdom (UK) Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA).
Karim’s late wife Ziba succumbed to cancer at the Cromwell Hospital in London in February 2004. TheSpy Uganda exclusively understands according to court documents that Karim Hirji gained full access to the estate of his late wife on November 19, 2004, after the High Court in Kampala handed him letters of administration after presenting a controversial Will from the UK based law firm of ”Evans Dodd Solicitors” something that Ziba’s children draw loopholes into.
The above is cited in Hirji and his co-accused’s defense through their lawyers, MMAKS Advocates and AF Mpanga Advocates in January 2015, which listed the Attorney General, Mr William Byaruhanga and businessman Mr Patrick Bitature as witnesses who the orphans accuse of colluding with Hirji to deny them their inheritance.
The properties that are causing pressure for tycoon Karim and his stepchildren include residential premises in the United Kingdom, two houses in Bugolobi, a Kampala suburb, two properties in Kololo, two shopping arcades in Kampala, two properties along Mawanda Road, among others.
Late Ziba’s children who are pulling ropes with Karim include; Linda Birungi, Anita Birungi and Ronnie Birungi, say that by the time their late mother got married to Karim, she already had other children (them) and had properties acquired from her earlier marriage (from their late father) but they were left with nothing upon her death after a ‘fraudulent Will’ which was presented by Karim, indicating that only the three children she had produced with Karim were the only ones to benefit from her estate.
In fact, it is alleged that the AG Byaruhanga traveled to London during the time she was hospitalized and obtained her signature which they used to sell off her properties in London and grab deposits on her London bank accounts.
It is against this background therefore that the UK’s Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) has kicked off investigations into the professional conduct of UK law firm Evans Dodd Solicitors, which tycoon Hirji says drew his wife’s Will that has since caused all this mess leaving the orphans discontented.
Commenting about the new move that is aimed at the investigation on the law firm’s conduct, petitioner Linda Birungi says, “We contend that the circumstances and process of obtaining the Grant of Probate to the estate of our late mother were tainted with fraud. The whole process was done so hurriedly and with such secrecy.”
“It is evident that Evans Dodd did not follow specific procedures for Solicitors acting for vulnerable clients to establish effective communication, mental capacity and to avoid undue influence or fraud,” she noted.
She further accused the firm of having transferred two of her late mothers’ properties to Mr Karim Hirji’s company for nil consideration. “The involvement of Evans Dodds, both in the drafting and execution of the last Will and Testament of the deceased as Solicitor and their simultaneous involvement in the sale and transfer of 7 Roffrey Court Swynford Gardens, London NW4 4XN (property belonging to the deceased) as Purchaser’s Solicitor/Agent, raises issues of conflict of interest,” she wrote.
Back to Uganda, according to law pundits, the outcome of the SRA’s investigation will have a direct impact on both the administration of the estate of the late Ziba Nanyonga Hirji and may trigger the court to revoke the letters of administration that were granted to Mr Hirji and Mr Ssempebwa.
What Is SRA, The Hope Of Ziba’s Orphans?
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the regulatory body for solicitors in England and Wales that is responsible for regulating the professional conduct of more than 125,000 solicitors and other authorized individuals at more than 11,000 firms, as well as those working in-house at private and public sector organizations.
The SRA, based in Birmingham with an office in London, is led operationally by a Chief Executive and Senior Management Team, with a Board and Board Sub-Committees providing strategic direction.
The SRA was formed in January 2007 by the Legal Services Act 2007 to act as the independent regulator of solicitors. While formally an arm of the Law Society, the SRA is a statutory creation and operationally independent of the Law Society.
In a report by Sir David Clementi of all legal services in England and Wales, he recommended that professional bodies holding both regulatory and representative responsibilities should separate those roles. The government adopted this recommendation and as TheSpy Uganda reports this, the Law Society remains the representative body for solicitors. Watch the space for more on this matter!!!!