Flamboyant lawyer in the dock
Bram Moszkowicz ‘is unfit to be a lawyer and should be suspended’ says Germ Kemper, Dean of the Amsterdam Bar Association. The flamboyant and controversial lawyer himself says he is being victimised for defending Geert Wilders: ‘I have trodden on some delicate toes. It’s payback time.’
Several papers carry stories about Moszkowicz’s fall from grace. The Volkskrant delves into the family history. Father Max Moszkowicz was the only one of his family to survive Auschwitz, weighing just 46 kilos when he was finally freed. He became a lawyer in the fifties and made a name for himself defending such well-known criminals as Klaas Bruinsma, Cor van Hout and Willem Holleeder.
His four sons all followed in his footsteps, the paper writes. His youngest, Bram, even took over one of his father’s most notorious clients, Willem Holleeder. Eldest son Robert, once the country’s youngest lawyer, ended up a drug addict and spent time in prison. His defence council at the time suggested that he, like many second generation camp victims, had been ‘trying too hard’. Bram Moszkowicz himself revealed a similar drive in an interview: ‘I try very hard to please my father.’
Moszkowicz set up shop with his three brothers and the practice became very successful. Bram Moszkowicz – pictured in NRC with three photographs of Marlon Brando as the Godfather on the wall of his office – gradually gained a reputation as a ‘friend of the mafia’, while brother David was temporarily suspended last year for failing to honour a number of financial obligations. Max Moszkowicz Jr is the only member of the family whose reputation has remained intact.
Moszkowicz’s defence of Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-imigration party PVV, and his appearances on RTL Boulevard raised his profile even more.
His present troubles centre on his business dealings. On Tuesday, complaints from the Dean of the Amsterdam Bar association Germ Kempers and a number of former clients resulted in a hearing before the disciplinary council, consisting of four lawyers and a judge. The main protagonist failed to put in an appearance, ostensibly because he wanted to ‘guarantee the anonymity’ of his clients, NRC reports.
The argument did not impress the Dean as the list of misdemeanours Moszkowicz stands accused of doesn’t show a great deal of respect for the Bar Association’s code of conduct.
Moszkowicz, whose hourly rate is €500, has admitted to taking cash payments from 80% to 90% of clients, with initial payments running into tens of thousands of euros. His clients then received receipts for less than the amount paid and, instead of receiving Moszkowicz’s personal services, were fobbed off with an intern.
Cash payment of over €15,000 have to reported to the Dean of the Bar Association, something Moszkowicz repeatedly failed to do. Neither did he comply with the training requirements for lawyers; ‘a pity’, according to Kempers, ‘because he could have picked up a few pointers regarding ethics’.
Moszkowicz is also in trouble with the tax office. He allegedly owes €1m for the years between 2003 and 2006 alone, writes NRC. Moszkowizc’s personal finances are ‘wobbly’ says Kempers. He couldn’t pay off €100,000 let alone a million, the Dean told NRC.
Moszkowicz faces an unconditional suspension of six months. The disciplinary council will decide on October 30.
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