A solicitor targeted by criminals to facilitate ‘dubious investment transactions’ has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Stuart Anthony Kaufman, admitted in 1981, was the sole director of Kaufman Legal Ltd when he used its client account to receive and pay out money where there was no underlying legal transaction.
According to the judgment, sums between £47,000 and £200,000 were paid into the client account in four transactions, in relation to escrow arrangements.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) alleged that Kaufman had facilitated ‘dubious investment transactions’ and claimed that his involvement was ‘integral to success of the scheme’.
The SRA also alleged that Kaufman failed to carry out appropriate customer due diligence in accordance with money laundering regulations.
Kaufman admitted to 10 allegations, including to an allegation of dishonesty.
The SRA recognised that Kaufman’s dishonesty was caused by others ‘more wicked than he’, the judgment states. The SRA also noted that the respondent had suffered a ‘spectacular fall from grace’.
Kaufman told the tribunal that he had ‘allowed himself to be deceived at a time when his health was poor’. His barrister added that her client had struggled to keep his firm afloat after legal aid cuts and was ‘a perfect target for experienced criminals’.
According to the judgment, the tribunal accepted that Kaufman had not initiated the scheme. However, it said he ‘should have known from the start that what he was doing was wrong. He clearly intended to benefit financially from the arrangements’.
It added: ‘The misconduct had been deliberate, calculated and had occurred on more than one occasion over a period of time.’
Kaufman was struck off the roll and ordered to pay costs of £24,136.