A solicitor who disappeared to Pakistan once the SRA started investigating him has been struck off for multiple counts of dishonesty.
Aziz-Ur Rehman had been sole principal with Ilford-based Morgan Mark Solicitors when the SRA received a complaint about the firm facilitating an unregulated investment scheme where overseas clients could buy a room in a ‘soon to be refurbished’ care home.
Rehman, a solicitor for 13 years, was present when SRA investigators arrived in April 2019 to inspect the books but when they tried to return Rehman emailed that he was out of the country for a family emergency. He never responded to any more emails and took no part in the disciplinary process, including not attending his Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal hearing last month.
In his absence, the tribunal found that Rehman had sole access to the firm’s accounts when a total of £198,000 was improperly transferred from the client to the office account.
In seven investigated matters, clients had deposited money for property purchases but none was used for those purposes. The client money was no longer in the client account or office account and it was submitted by the SRA it was ‘abundantly clear’ that Rehman had caused the misuse and/or misappropriation of client monies.
The tribunal found that in at least seven matters, client monies were used for purposes other than the completion of property purchases. There were likely to be more cases, as it was noted that by December 2021, the SRA had received 25 claims on the compensation fund from former client totalling £752,000.
The tribunal added: ‘Mr Rehman must have known that the improper transfers were being used for purposes other than the completion of property purchases. It mattered not to the tribunal how the client monies were used by Mr Rehman; the fact remained that they were not used in accordance with client instructions.’
With no mitigation or explanation offered by Rehman, he was struck off and ordered to pay £25,300 costs.