A solicitor who told the regulator he was at his elderly mother’s bedside in China when he was actually at home in London has been struck off for professional misconduct.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found that Simon Sui Ping Hsu, admitted in 1990, had ‘repeatedly used the claimed ill-health of his mother as a shield to try to deflect him from scrutiny by his regulator’ during an investigation into his conduct.
According to a statement of agreed facts and outcome, Hsu had told a client that £40,000 was required for the payment of stamp duty land tax, while working as a consultant at London firm Swan and Dale LLP. However, the firm’s client account recorded a transfer of just £21,250 to HMRC.
According to the same statement, Hsu used the remaining £18,199 to make a payment to an agency which, as far as the client was aware, had no involvement in the conveyancing transaction. The sum was purportedly for services around the locating of the property, including feng shui advice.
Hsu also admitted that he received £700 from the client for the purposes of paying a deposit on legal fees, and that he did not pay the money into the firm’s client account and/or record the dealings with the client money properly or at all.
When the Solicitors Regulation Authority contacted Hsu in 2020, he emailed to say his mother was in intensive care in China and he was unable to leave her side. He also said that, with the seriousness of the coronavirus and the lockdown policy of the government, he was not allowed to leave the hospital.
Hsu now admits that he was in London during the SRA’s investigation and not overseas as portrayed by him in his emails. He also admits two counts of dishonesty.
In mitigation, the respondent said he has now retired from practice due to mental health issues and the ill health of his elderly mother. He added that he was suffering from anxiety due to his mother’s ill health and this impacted his cooperation with the SRA during their investigation.
The tribunal found this to be a ‘serious case of professional misconduct’, and struck Hsu off the roll. Hsu also agreed to pay the SRA’s costs of £35,171.