A conveyancing solicitor convicted for money laundering offences has agreed he should also now be struck off the roll.
Stephen Michael Oakley, a partner with now-defunct Cardiff firm Oakley and Davies Limited, had not practised as a solicitor since 2011 but was convicted of three offences under money laundering regulations in 2018.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard Oakley had pleaded guilty to the three counts, as well as an offence of having failed to surrender to bail, at Cardiff Crown Court. He was fined £6,250 and ordered to pay £7,200 towards prosecution costs.
A solicitor since 1985, Oakley had been instructed by a client in a property purchase, but the client was subsequently convicted of mortgage fraud in relation to the transaction.
Along with another individual, the client had raised the purchase funds from a commercial bank loan and from sums provided by a number of different third party sources. Oakley was found in breach of money laundering regulations by failing to undertake appropriate due diligence for the source and origin of third party monies.
Ultimately this failure facilitated a mortgage fraud and the dishonest acquisition of the property. Sentencing Oakley, Her Honour Judge Rees said the solicitor was the money laundering officer for his firm and he had prime responsibility for preventing anybody laundering criminal money.
The judge said Oakley knew his responsibilities and was trained in this area, but had been ‘cavalier’ on these transactions and failed to keep proper records or make proper enquiries in relation to his gatekeeper role. There was no suggestion he benefitted from what was happening or was even alive to it, the judge said.
Oakley agreed with the SRA that he should be struck off, but in non-agreed mitigation he stated that the length of time between the events and the investigation by the police and now the SRA had a ‘significant’ effect on his self-esteem. The loss of his professional status, he added, was a ‘profound one that I shall have to face for the remainder of my life’.
The tribunal opted to strike Oakley off, as well as order him to pay £2,000 costs.