An unregistered barrister has been disbarred after he and a struck-off solicitor ‘cloned’ a law firm to perpetrate a £2m mortgage fraud.
Yawar Shah, who was called to the bar in 2006 but had not taken pupillage, instead becoming a chartered legal executive, was convicted in 2013 on two counts of conspiracy to defraud.
The Court of Appeal gave him a three-year jail sentence in 2014 after the attorney general appealed to increase the original sentence from 18 months.
The court found that Shah worked with Peter Daniel Hastings, a former solicitor who was struck off in 2003 for gross incompetence, to ‘clone’ Illford-based firm Beck Partnership. The Gazette has been unable to contact Beck Partnership for comment.
The pair obtained mortgages for houses which were not for sale, or by committing similar irregularities, using the ‘cloned’ Beck Partnership as a front.
Shah’s company opened an office in the same building as the real Beck Partnership so he could obtain documentation from the firm. According to the judgment Shah owned two companies, a firm of solicitors called Conifer and Pines and a bridging loan company called Shahsons Bridging and Finance Limited.
At the time, the appeal court heard that Shah had used his professional knowledge and status to perpetrate these ‘highly professional’ frauds. It found that he had a lesser involvement in the fraud than Hastings.
Lord Justice Fulford said that this type of criminality ‘seriously undermines the confidence the public and the relevant financial institutions have in the solicitors and brokers who are involved at critical stages in these arrangements’.
The fraud was discovered after a partner at the real Beck Partnership was asked why the firm had not sent documents to a commercial lender who had given £1.2m for two transactions.
The bar disciplinary tribunal this week found that Shah’s conduct was dishonest and discreditable to a barrister, and that he had failed to report his criminal convictions to the regulator.
Sara Jagger, director of professional conduct at the Bar Standards Board, said: ‘Mr Shah’s actions, and his subsequent criminal conviction, are clearly incompatible with membership of the bar. The tribunal’s decision to disbar him reflects this.’