The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) this week stopped short of warning Louis Nchindo’s lawyers, Collins Newman & Company, that they may be charged jointly with their client on allegations of corruption.
In a letter couched in caution, the DPP informed Collins Newman & Company that “the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime has been instructed to ascertain the full extent of your law firm’s business with Tourism Development Consortium, including the question as to whether your law firm could have been oblivious of the clearly controversial acts by Tourism Development Consortium now subject of the indictments against your client…”
For now, officers at Collins Newman & Company have been put on notice that they may be called in as state witnesses against Nchindo and the position may change depending on the extent to which the law firm was involved in the controversial land deal.
“We reiterate that we are yet to decide if your law firm and its officers’ roles regarding this case will go beyond that of mere witnesses. We further note that your law firm drafted the disputed resolution which is the subject of count 6 (forgery).”
In the later, DPP is calling on Collins Newman & Company to recuse itself from the case because “there is every indication that your law firm will seek to call its officers as witnesses to explain away the issue regarding the said resolution. Should that situation transpire, your law firm will play the roles of state witness, defence witness and legal representative.
“We therefore ask your law firm as an entity, including its officers, to withdraw its services as legal representatives of the accused persons before 31st January 2008 when the matter shall come before court. Kindly take notice that failure to do so shall result in the prosecution seeking a court order compelling your law firm to withdraw from the case.”
Indications are that the state may be having other factors to back up its conflict of interest case against Collins Newman & Company. In their letter, DPP states that, “Without being exhaustive, the following actions regarding Tourism Development Consortium (Pty) Ltd and Golconda were undertaken and executed by your law firm Collins, Newman and Company.
Collins Newman & Company is fighting back, charging that “not only is the invective in the letter defamatory and ill-considered, it exposes a lack of understanding of the attorney client relationship and privilege arising therefrom.”
“What we also find particularly surprising is that you impugn our legal ethics and make allegations of “extreme conflict of interest” on the basis of facts which we have not been informed about.”