Zuma's lawyer faces disbarment over Aurora 'perjury' claims
President Jacob Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley could face a R100 000 fine, suspension from practising or being completely struck off the roll if he is found guilty of perjury over his involvement in Aurora Empowerment Systems, the mining company owned by Khulubuse Zuma, the president’s nephew and Zondwa Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson.
According to reports in Sunday newspaper City Press, liquidators of gold mining company Pamodzi have confirmed that they would be filing a complaint with the Law Society of the Northern Provinces (LSNP) against Hulley on Monday, accusing him of lying under oath to avoid a R1.5-billon lawsuit.
While Hulley did not answer questions from City Press, he is quoted as stating that he will deal with the complaint once it has been laid.
Next month, Aurora directors and consultants will be back in court facing a claim of R1.5-billion from Pamodzi liquidators.
LSNP president Strike Madiba said the society would open an enquiry as soon as they received a complaint, and the results would determine what action would be taken against Hulley.
“We haven’t received the complaint as yet; we will only [address] the case when we have it in writing. Should he (Hulley) be found guilty of the allegations, he may be fined up to R100 000, suspended from practising as an attorney or be taken off the roll because we view such accusations very seriously. But he has to be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations, and if there is merit in the complaint, an investigation will be held where both parties will present their sides and an outcome will be made.
‘Very serious offence’
“If indeed he is found to have perjured himself, then that is a very serious offence that will be dealt with harshly.”
Hulley is no stranger to controversy. In 2011 Mail & Guardian reported that his business dealings with the Zuma family were called into question in 2010 when the advocate was linked to two British Virgin Islands registered companies that were controversially awarded oil exploration rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo by its president, Joseph Kabila.
Last year, it was reported that new evidence in the Aurora Empowerment Systems court case suggested Michael Hulley was far more deeply involved in the failed business than he has previously made out, after an affidavit by Aurora director Thulani Ngubane.
According to reports, Hulley told a commission of inquiry, set up in 2011 to interrogate Aurora’s management of the two Pamodzi mines, that he was brought in to advise Zuma “in his professional capacity as attorney in respect of the affairs of Aurora”. But he admitted that as Aurora’s inability to obtain funds worsened, he became much more “intricately” involved in the business, without providing details.
Hulley an ‘active director’
Ngubane’s affidavit suggested that Hulley was an active director and member of the board. In his affidavit Ngubane stated: “Zondwa, Khulubuse and I were directors of Aurora. In addition, Hulley was a director of Aurora ... Zondwa, Khulubuse, Hulley and I were all responsible for the management of the affairs of Aurora.”
According to the Sunday report, the liquidators confirmed on Friday that they will now seek to hold Hulley liable for a portion of the R1.5-billion claim, with attorney John Walker saying he had been instructed to institute legal action against Hulley to hold him liable for the debts of Aurora in his capacity as director.
Madiba said due to the seriousness of the allegations, the investigation would not take long once a complaint had been laid, and the society could approach the courts to suspend an attorney, in this case Hulley, from practising pending the outcome of the case.
“One should be proven to have done what is alleged before he is suspended but if we feel the case is very serious, we can approach the courts and ask for the attorney in question to be prevented from practising at all while the case is ongoing. Then he would not be able to practice in any form until he is either struck off the roll or penalised in some other way. And the court usually grants that.”