An employee who made a total of seven payments from his firm’s client account into his own account has been barred from the profession.
Matthew Price, who had worked in the accounts department of Essex firm Ellisons for more than 10 years, transferred a total of £12,790 in 2019.
It was only in June 2020 that he was found out, after the firm’s bank returned a cheque which had been drawn from the office bank account. The £550 cheque had been made payable to Price, but the bank was concerned about the validity of the signature, purportedly that of the firm’s financial compliance officer.
Price was suspended and later admitted writing the cheque. He also admitted to drawing another cheque to himself in May 2020, and was immediately dismissed.
According to a regulatory settlement agreement with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Price accepted that his conduct was dishonest. He said that his actions were caused by his getting into personal debt. He expressed remorse for his actions and co-operated with the SRA investigation. Price, who is not a solicitor, is also repaying the firm.
The regulator said that Price poses a risk to client and office money. He was made subject to a section 43 order, barring him from working for any law firm without SRA permission and agreed to pay £300 costs.