A solicitor who laundered £900,000 and helped to enable a land-banking scam has been banned from the profession.
Dale Walker, a sole practitioner based in Sevenoaks, Kent, acted for clients involved in pushing collective investment schemes to members of the public.
The group purchased land for £361,200 then sold it on to potential investors promising the collective value was some £4.3m.
Members of the public were attracted to invest in the land by misleading claims being published and fed to them by salesmen who made cold calls on a vast scale.
Walker was jailed for five and a half years in April 2015 for money laundering and aiding and abetting the investment scheme.
The judge noted it had been a ‘subtle and cruel fraud’ which, in one case, had seen an investor lose £527,950 and left him reliant on his daughters to sell their houses to help him repay his debts.
After his conviction, Walker was prosecuted at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal at a hearing in September. Walker did not appear and was not represented.
Prosecuting, the Solicitors Regulation Authority said Walker had been involved in a ‘very substantial and deliberate fraud’ on the public which encouraged them to buy plots through ‘countless misrepresentations’.
The tribunal heard that Walker had appeared before the SDT on two previous occasions: once for withdrawing money from a general client account and secondly for failing to provide clients with information about costs and failing to operate a complaints procedure. The previous charges included taking advantage of clients by overcharging them for work done.
The latest tribunal concluded: ‘The offences of which [Walker] had been convicted had a dreadful impact on members of the public and as a result on the reputation of the solicitors’ profession. It was clear from the judge’s note of sentence that [his] actions had been cynical and utterly calculated.
‘To compound that he had been before the tribunal on two previous occasions and the amount of fine he had been ordered to pay had escalated. He had been advised that a second appearance before the tribunal was an extremely serious matter. Clearly that warning had no effect upon him.’
Walker was struck off the roll of solicitors and ordered to pay £3,150 costs.