Three barristers who were sanctioned by a Malaysian disciplinary committee for client money offences have been disbarred by a disciplinary tribunal in London.

Unregistered barristers Natarajan Balachandran, Mei Leong and Theyakaraja Palaniandy were struck off the roll of advocates and solicitors of the High Court of Malaya for separate offences relating to failures to return client money.

Balachandran was found to have failed to return a $150,000 deposit given to him by a client for the purpose of obtaining a loan, which he failed to obtain; Leong failed to release money to a client, which he received while acting on their behalf in the sale of a property; and Palaniandy failed to refund a deposit paid to him pending the completion of a purchase of land, which ultimately did not take place.

The Bar Standards Board subsequently brought charges of professional misconduct and a tribunal found the three men had acted in a way which was likely to diminish public trust. It also found the men had failed to report to the BSB that they had been subject to disciplinary action by another regulator.

According to the BSB, disciplinary proceedings were delayed due to ‘difficulties in tracing the current whereabouts of the three individuals’.

Sara Jagger, BSB director of legal and enforcement said: ‘Although these serious breaches of professional obligations were committed in a foreign jurisdiction, the BSB retains regulatory oversight of all those called to the bar regardless of where they reside. The tribunal’s findings serve as a reminder that barristers’ core duties apply even when practising in another jurisdiction.’

The tribunal’s decisions are open to appeal.