A legal aid solicitor convicted for her part in a translation fee scam has agreed to be struck off the roll.
Babita Attra came to the agreed outcome with the Solicitors Regulation Authority – confirmed by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal – that she should be removed after being convicted last January of conspiracy to defraud.
Attra was a consultant with London firm Carson Kaye when she applied to the Legal Aid Agency for almost £83,000 for translating English case papers into Romanian for clients.
A periodic review of her files in February 2017 found she had applied for costs to translate 450,000 words, based on an invoice from a translation company owned by someone (referred to as MT) with whom she was in a relationship. On reviewing the file, it was discovered that the document in question actually had a word count of 18,000.
The tribunal heard that Attra asked MT to provide quotes for the number of words to be translated on four cases, and while she obtained alternative quotes, she never sent the case papers to the translation firms. She also ensured MT got the translation work as she did not submit the cheapest quote to the LAA, and in one case, submitted a bogus quote from a company that had stopped trading 11 months previously.
Before the Inner London Crown Court, Attra was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment suspended for two years and to carry out unpaid work for 150 hours. The judge opted not to jail the single mother immediately to avoid separating Attra from her child. At further confiscation proceedings in November 2020, she was ordered to repay £5,583 from the profit she had made out of the fraud.
In sentencing, the judge said Attra’s actions had cost Carson Kaye almost £63,000, and described her actions as a serious breach of trust placed in her by her firm and the LAA. Although her role as a solicitor was essential to the operation of the fraud, the judge noted that MT was the architect.
In her explanation to the SRA, Attra said she had been used for her qualifications by someone she had fallen in love with. She claimed not to be aware that the word count was being inflated but was ‘painfully aware’ of the consequences of her conduct.
Attra, a solicitor since August 2013, was struck off and ordered to pay £337 costs.