A lawyer who misappropriated more than £230,000 over five years from deceased clients has been struck off. Probate solicitor Peter Charles Davies, 60, abused the power of attorney given to him and then took steps to cover his tracks, a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard.
Davies made a series of improper transfers, created fraudulent wills and moved funds between various dead clients to gain access to funds without suspicion being raised.
In total his misconduct last for more than five years, and was designed for his personal gain.
The tribunal, in a judgment published this month, said Davies’ conduct was ‘disgraceful’ and he had taken advantage of his position. ‘He had plundered the estates of deceased clients for his own personal purposes causing losses to the beneficiaries,’ said the tribunal.
‘[Davies] had demonstrated a shocking abuse of the trust placed in him and was not fit to be a solicitor. He was a risk to members of the public and could not be trusted with client funds at all.’
The tribunal heard Davies, who was not present at June’s hearing, was dismissed from his role as assistant solicitor at Bangor firm Parry Davies Clnwyd & Lloyd LLP in March 2016 after an investigation into his activities.
Among his misdeeds, he had fraudulently created a will to wrongly name someone as beneficiary of an estate. He then diverted £5,000 from the estate to his own bank account.
At one stage he made 20 withdrawals totalling almost £6,000 from local cash machines. He admitted all nine allegations brought against him and told investigating officers he had been ‘helping himself’ to money from estates but was not able to recall how much.
Davies was described as an experienced solicitor, admitted in 1995. He was ‘entirely culpable’ for his actions which were planned over a long period of time. The tribunal found the only mitigating factors to be a previously unblemished record and full and early submissions. As well as being struck off he was also ordered to pay £17,000 costs.