A prominent agricultural solicitor has been struck after reportedly hiding the money made from a property sale from a mortgage lender.
Peter Rhys Williams helped a bankrupt client to conceal the full sale of the property from Northern Rock, Farmers Weekly reported.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has confirmed that Williams was struck off at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal following a hearing last month, but details of the judgment have yet to be published. He had been charged with five allegations of misconduct relating to his time when he worked at Wiltshire firm Wilsons Solicitors, with three proven.
He was found to have failed to act with integrity, taken unfair advantage of a third party and failed to behave in a way that maintains trust in the legal profession.
The Telegraph is now reporting that Williams was subsequently subject to an SRA investigation relating to advice given to clients relating to a loan scheme which left dozens of farmers in financial difficulty.
The SRA confirmed complaints were made about his conduct in relation to loan advice, but the investigation into the property sale conduct was already underway.
Farmers Weekly said the tribunal heard Williams devised a ‘scheme’ for the client to ‘net a significant profit’ from the sale of the home counties property, valued between £2.1m and £2.3m.
Williams planned to sell the property on to a friend known as ‘JD’ for £3.9m. The client’s debt of £2.9m would be written off and the property sold at market value, with the lender unlikely to pursue the client for the £700,000 balance because it was not aware of the sub-sale.
Williams, who went on to work for Devon firm Michelmores, wrote the tenth edition of the definitive textbook on agricultural holdings law. The firm has confirmed he ceased to be a partner following the SDT decision.
It is reported that Williams intends to appeal the SDT ruling. He is also subject to an order for £195,000 in costs.