A Greater Manchester solicitor has been struck off the roll after using client funds to prop up his ailing firm.
Boma Ellis-Dokubo, formerly of Beevers Solicitors in Booth Street, Ashton-Under-Lyne, was ordered to be struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal after it found five counts of dishonesty proven.
Beevers was closed down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in December 2012 when the misconduct was discovered. The SRA brought the prosecutions against Mr Ellis-Dokubo and partner Karibo Lawson.
The tribunal found Ellis-Dokubo guilty of failing to act in the best interest of clients, transferring money from the client account to the office account without sending a bill of costs or other written notification to the client, retaining client monies without proper reason, making statements which he knew to be untrue and failing to notify the SRA that Beevers Solicitors was in serious financial difficulty.
The SRA has paid clients owed money by Beevers Solicitors grants totalling £137,372.74 from its Compensation Fund, with more applications in the pipeline.
Ellis-Dokubo, of Grotton, Lancashire, was not present at the tribunal due to ill-health. Through a representative, he admitted the allegations, but denied acting dishonestly.
The tribunal said it would have struck him off without the dishonesty allegations as there were serious breaches of rules which were deliberate and which took place over a considerable period of time. Ellis-Dokubo was ordered to pay costs of £25,000.
In the same hearing, Karibo Lawson, of Gately, Cheshire, admitted to seven similar allegations against him. He was suspended for two years and ordered to pay costs of £4,000. The tribunal said that while Lawson co-operated with the SRA at the hearing and was not involved with the dishonesty, he should have reported to the SRA that things were going wrong with the firm when he became aware of them in the mid-2000s.
Gordon Ramsay, SRA director of legal enforcement, said: ‘Mr Ellis-Dokubo used client monies without permission and for purposes that are simply not allowed, so we welcome the tribunal’s decision. As a partner in the firm, Mr Lawson had the opportunity to report the wrongdoings. We are pleased to note the tribunal’s findings in that regard.’
Ellis-Dokubo and Lawson have 21 days from the SDT’s publication of its judgment to appeal.