A former head of a commercial property department has been struck off for using client money to repay a loan which he had received from another client.
Robert Flynn withdrew almost £22,000 from various ledgers to make the payment, then withdrew a similar sum from another ledger to plug the hole. The final payment left a shortage on one client account of £21,250.
The transfers were not authorised or requested by the clients, and remained unknown to them until some six months later.
Flynn’s misconduct came to light after an investigation by his firm, Brighton practice Woolley Bevis Diplock, where he was an equity partner.
After two meetings to discuss whether he was having any difficulties, Flynn did not attend a third planned meeting and failed to return to work. He did not respond to attempts to contact him.
Flynn did not appear at a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal last month despite being asked to give his case.
In his absence, the tribunal heard how Flynn had falsely described the repayment to his friend as a ‘repayment’ on the accounts system, then described the further withdrawals as a ‘deposit’ and ‘purchase money’.
The tribunal found a number of allegations proved against him, including acting dishonestly, failing to keep accounting records properly written up and withdrawing money from client accounts other than in circumstances approved.
The tribunal said Flynn’s actions were ‘elaborate’ from an ‘experienced and trusted solicitor in the firm’.
It added: ‘He had failed to provide any sort of explanation for what he had done. There could be no doubt that [he] was aware that what he was doing was dishonest.’
The tribunal noted that Woolley Bevis Diplock had repaid all outstanding money in full and that its conduct had been ‘entirely proper and professional’, adding that Flynn’s misconduct was ‘not a reflection on the conduct of the firm, of which there was no criticism’.
Flynn was struck off the roll of solicitors and ordered to pay £8,500 costs.