A veteran solicitor who stole thousands of pounds from long-term clients – some of whom regarded him as a friend – has agreed to be banned from the profession.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that David Grant, equity partner and compliance officer for now-closed Notts firm Tracey Barlow Fumiss & Co, stole the money to help alleviate his financial difficulties. His breach of trust was said to be ‘monumental’, and he tried to conceal his actions by misleading an SRA investigator into believing his clients had lent him money.
Grant, a solicitor for 46 years, is currently serving two years’ imprisonment at HMP Leicester after being convicted in December of one count of theft and two counts of money laundering. The conviction for theft was on the basis that Grant had stolen more than £95,000 belonging to two clients after he had received these funds following the sale of their company. He had also entered into a money laundering arrangement with another client which led to him depriving a deceased’s estate of £6,000.
His case was handled at a one-day hearing in March following an agreed outcome between Grant and the SRA.
Among a list of examples of misconduct, the tribunal found Grant failed to notify the SRA his firm was in financial trouble, and he made a payment from client account to an unrelated third party with no underlying transaction. He also failed to properly or effectively manage his staff in closing his firm, and failed to provide proper instructions in relation to residual client balances.
In his mitigation, Grant said he thought the funds raised from the sale of his own property and his business would be sufficient to repay his liabilities. He had been in negotiation with another solicitor to join his firm as a partner, and said he had relied too heavily on his office manager.
The tribunal said Grant’s conduct was ‘deliberate, calculated and repeated’, taking advantage of longstanding clients who had placed their trust in him. Grant had also tried to hide his theft by persuading two clients to give false and misleading information to his regulator.
Grant was struck off and ordered to pay £14,000 costs.