A renowned sports lawyer today appeared before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal denying a string of allegations.
Mel Goldberg, who represents high-profile footballers and world champion boxers, is charged with eight separate allegations in relation to how he ran his west London firm.
Goldberg told the tribunal that he admitted accounts rules breaches, including failing to keep up-to-date accounts and failing to maintain client ledgers for foreign currency transactions.
But the solicitor, who has practised for 47 years and who turns 80 next year, denied allowing client accounts to be used inappropriately as a banking facility.
He also denied failing to carry out due diligence on clients, acting where there was a conflict of interest and not acting in the best interests of clients.
The tribunal heard the Solicitors Regulation Authority's case exemplified six transactions out of 18 investigated from 2011 to 2014, where Goldberg was transferring funds through the client account and claiming fees, but without appearing to discharge any legal work.
Representing the SRA, Chloe Carpenter of Fountain Court Chambers said the six transactions under the microscope were ‘complex and confusing’, with unclear and ill-defined terms and conditions.
In one case Goldberg, who had confirmed in interviews he was aware of his obligations to prevent money laundering, retained a client who acted as a facilitator for securing loans.
This client, named as Goldmoss Ltd, secured a $100m (£82m) investment from a New Zealand financier into a company in California.
The New Zealand financial services regulator had previously warned firms about dealing with this lender.
Goldberg was ‘routinely’ instructed to act for Goldmoss and the borrower, with Goldmoss paid a £2m fee and Goldberg, who charged £500 an hour, taking a cut of that. The SRA said this ‘clearly’ pointed to a conflict of interest.
Carpenter added: ‘This agreement makes no legal sense at all. Any solicitor properly conducting themselves and receiving an agreement like that would be extremely concerned and would not have acted on that transaction at all.
‘These are dubious transactions on their face… he is receiving documents that – even if he was providing legal work – he would not have been competent to do.’
Goldberg’s firm was shut by the SRA in September 2014 after the regulator found reason to suspect dishonesty.
The hearing, due to last until Thursday, continues.