SDT: Ogbondah Nkem Omodu

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  • Application 10788-2011
  • Admitted 2005
  • Hearing 15 February 2012
  • Reasons 14 March 2012

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The SDT ordered that the respondent be struck off the roll.

The respondent had acted in breach of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998 in that contrary to rule 1(e) and (f) he had failed to maintain accounting ­systems and proper internal control over those systems, so as to ensure compliance with the rules; contrary to rule 1(f) and (g) he had failed to keep proper accounting records to show accurately the position with regard to the money held for each client; ­contrary to rule 32(7) reconciliations had not included the sum of the client balances; contrary to rule 32(8) a central record or file of copies of bills of costs given or sent had not been maintained; and contrary to guideline 2.3 of appendix 3 cashbook entries had not always identified the relative client and therefore had not provided ‘adequate information about the transaction’; he had dishonestly acted in breach of rules 1(a), (c), (d) and (e) of the Solicitors Practice Rules 1990 in that he had failed to report material facts to lender clients and had failed to comply with undertakings given in the certificate of title at the appendix to 25.01 of the Guide to the Professional Conduct of Solicitors; he had recklessly acted in breach of rules 1(a), (c), and (d) of the 1990 rules in that he had been involved in transactions which bore the hallmarks of mortgage fraud contrary to the Law Society Green Card warning on property fraud; he had acted dishonestly in breach of rules 1.01, 1.02, 1.03, and 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007 in that he had made false statements on an insurance proposal form in respect of his firm’s professional indemnity insurance; and he had acted recklessly in breach of rules 1(a) and (d) of the 1990 rules and rules 1.02 and 1.06 of the 2007 code in that he had purported separately to be in partnership with Raji Viswanath and Prasant Chaudury when no real partnership agreement existed and those arrangements had misled the public and clients. The SDT said the respondent had had two allegations of dishonesty found proved against him: that relating to his deception of the building society had been sustained over a period of 10 months, and the other was in respect of a professional indemnity insurance proposal form, which was also a serious matter.

The SDT did not consider that the respondent’s case fell into what had been described in the case of Sharma [2010] EWHC 2022 (Admin) as ‘a small residual category where striking-off will be a disproportionate sentence in all the circumstances...’. Accordingly it ordered that the respondent be struck off the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £40,000, such order not to be enforced without leave of the SDT.

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