The trial of Joe Ezaz, a former lawyer in the ELS international law firm has been set aside for a date in April, later this year. Mr Ezaz is accused of embezzling funds that had been invested in a property fund of Stirling Mortimer Global Property Ltd. The law firm was not able to recover the amount misappropriated by using its professional indemnity insurance as one of the insurers claimed that cover was excluded and therefore is attempting to repay the amount using Ezaz’s frozen assets.
The trial date on 17th April this year has been reported by the annual report of the property group and it is expected that there will be a ten day hearing scheduled.
Mr Ezaz was a former senior partner of the law firm and is accused of shifting the money belonging to investors from the law firm’s client account and using it for reasons which had nothing to do with the fund for which it was intended for.
The law firm was keeping the fund, amounting to a total of nearly ten million euros, in an Escrow account. It was supposed to give the money back if the fund property manager did not reach the required sales targets by January 2010.
The sales targets apparently were not reached but the money did not materialise, prompting Stirling Mortimer to take legal action against ELS. The fund manager went to the High Court and won the case late in 2010. The court decision instructed ELS to repay the full amount held for the clients plus interest accrued.
Apparently the law firm had full professional indemnity insurance held with two separate insurers for a total of ten million pounds. One of the insurance companies, the primary insurer, paid up three million pounds that the insurance policy covered the firm for, but a secondary insurer who supposedly had been used to cover the remainder, an amount of nearly seven million pounds denied that PI insurance cover existed. This caused the fund manager to seek seizure of Ezaz’s assets.
ELS managed to have Ezaz’s assets frozen, but the actual situation will not be clarified until the hearing and trial in April.