A solicitor who became entangled in a funding arrangement that ‘bore the hallmarks of a dubious investment scheme’ has been fined £25,000 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).
According to the statement of agreed facts and proposed outcome, Mark Andrew Fallon, admitted in 1991, was director of a recognised body called Mr Finch Limited, established in 2016, at all material times. He previously held senior positions at Irwin Mitchell and Lance Mason.
In 2016 Mr Finch received over £1m from an ‘alternative investment fund management company’ called Sable International Finance Limited. No organisation is currently listed under that name on Companies House.
Fallon admitted to the Solicitors Regulation Authority that Sable showed signs of being ‘a dubious scheme’. For example, it displayed an ‘absence of commercial rationale’ as the rates being offered meant it could not make any profit.
The scheme also stressed the need for secrecy and sent poorly drafted documentation, according to the statement. It added: ‘The indications of a dubious scheme were even more obvious and unavoidable when [Fallon] became aware of the fact that bank accounts relating to the Sable scheme had been frozen.’
Fallon admitted to all allegations in full, including allowing the firm to become involved in a funding arrangement bearing the hallmarks of a dubious investment scheme.
He also admitted to acting recklessly, failing to adequately monitor the firm’s funding arrangements and submitting an application to the SRA containing misleading information.
Finally, he admitted to allowing funds to be transferred from the firm’s office account to third parties to re-pay debts to a lender in the knowledge that accounts associated with the lender had been frozen.
According to the judgment, the tribunal found the respondent’s ‘very serious’ misconduct was ‘aggravated by his recklessness’. It noted, in mitigation, that the respondent’s misconduct did not put client money at risk. It also noted Fallon’s full co-operation with the SRA, his demonstrable insight and early admissions.
Fallon was ordered to pay a fine of £25,000 and costs of £15,000. He was also banned from being sole signatory on any client or office account for three years.