A law firm partner who lied to his business partner for his own financial gain has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Tarik Akhtar, a partner at London firm AA Arden Solicitors, amended insurance premium quotes by thousands of pounds and sent them to his business partner Hilda Amoo-Gottfried for her to pay.
He also changed correspondence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority to suggest that the regulator was demanding £550 for the renewal of recognition for his previous firm and to cover outstanding compensation fund payments.
In January 2013, the SRA received a statement from Amoo-Gottfried alleging three acts of dishonesty by Akhtar, which prompted an investigation.
Following a hearing in June, at which Akhtar did not appear and was not represented, five charges were proven against him, including dishonesty.
The tribunal said: ‘His conduct was a complete departure from the standards of integrity, probity and trustworthiness expected of a solicitor and had harmed, or at the very least risked harming, the reputation of the profession.’
The tribunal heard Akhtar, who turns 66 this year, was responsible for renewing the firm’s insurance and had opted to secure indemnity cover from Zurich with a premium of £4,615, paying by cheque.
But in an email exchange with Amoo-Gottfried, he stated the premium was £8,631. It was agreed she would pay £6,131, given her greater share in the partnership, and Akhtar would pay £2,500.
He provided Amoo-Gottfried with a policy schedule which was in all material respects the same as the one provided by Zurich, except the premium and premium tax were changed.
The tribunal also heard Akhtar had failed to report to the SRA that a county court judgment in 2013 had been obtained against him by the London Borough of Wandsworth.
Akhtar provided no mitigation and indeed had not engaged with proceedings at all, failing to respond to advertisements placed in the legal press.
The tribunal found him ‘entirely culpable’ for his misconduct and said he was motivated by personal financial gain. He was struck off the roll and ordered to pay £12,624 in prosecution costs.