Cape Town – Prominent lawyer Dines Chandra Manilala Gihwala has been struck off the roll of attorneys in the Western Cape High Court.
This followed an application brought by the Cape Law Society. Gihwala has a distinguished career spanning 40 years.
The application followed a number of complaints of alleged professional misconduct lodged against Gihwala in 2009 and 2011 by Karim Mawjii, the chief executive of Montague Goldsmith (MG) AG, a Swiss asset management company based in Zurich.
Mawjii was introduced to Gihwala in 2001 by a long-standing friend of his, Anil Narotam, who was employed as MG’s chief operating officer.
MG acted as investment adviser and agent of Grancy Property Limited (“Grancy”), an investment company (incorporated under the laws of the British Virgin Islands) that traded principally out of Lichtenstein, and which was used by Mawjii and Narotam as a vehicle to take up two investments which Gihwala introduced them to in 2005.
Between 1978 and 2011 Gihwala served as a managing partner or chairperson of many prominent legal firms, including Wilkinson, Joshua & Gihwala and then Gihwala Abercrombie, to Hofmeyr, Herbstein and Gihwala and Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.
Delivering the judgment, Judge Mark Sher said: “The complaints that were lodged by Mawjii in 2009 and 2011 concerned fairly complex transactions that involved intricate commercial schemes of investment, which required some investigation and consideration beyond what would normally be the case.
"What complicated matters is that the respondent adopted an obfuscatory approach to Mawjii/Grancy’s queries and requests for information and proper accounting, and consequently the parties became embroiled in a number of legal skirmishes that were conducted at every level of the courts, and which took some time to be resolved.”
He said a mind-boggling plethora of lawsuits and expansive and costly litigation ensued between the parties, over many years, following the termination of their business relationship.
“As will be apparent, most of this was totally unnecessary and could probably have been avoided had the respondent been transparent and co-operative at the outset, instead of obdurate and unhelpful in relation to the record of the transactions involved in both investments.”
Judge Sher ordered that Gihwala must surrender and deliver to the Registrar of the Court his certificate of enrolment as an attorney within 10 days.