A London solicitor and former director of a firm has been struck off for dishonestly misusing millions of pounds of client money.
Ashok Kumar Sancheti was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal after a three-day hearing last week in a case described by the tribunal as ‘about as serious as it gets’.
The tribunal heard how Sancheti failed to pay funds he had been given to settle a dispute out of court, and that he converted £3.2m of client funds into a banker’s draft.
In a prosecution brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, it was also alleged that Sancheti had breached a professional undertaking, failed to account for funds involved in that undertaking and failed to pay £135,000 of stamp duty on behalf of a client.
The SDT found 10 allegations against him proven, with four of them involving dishonesty.
Sancheti formerly practised as a director and member of Morgan Walker LLP and then as sole director of Morgan Walker Solicitors Limited, both in Chancery Lane, London. Morgan Walker was closed down by the SRA in March 2012 and Sancheti was suspended from practising.
Gordon Ramsay, SRA Director of Legal and Enforcement, said: ‘Solicitors hold positions of trust, and the principles we expect them to abide by state they must act with integrity and maintain the trust that the public puts in them. Those solicitors that fail to uphold these principles can expect to face severe consequences.
‘In Mr Sancheti’s case, he misused significant sums of clients’ money that had been entrusted to him. The consequences for these clients could have been devastating. Striking him off was clearly appropriate.’
Sanchetti, who qualified to practise in England and Wales in 1999 having previously practised abroad, was also ordered to pay £106,545 towards costs.
He has 21 days from the publication of the SDT decision to appeal.