• Application 11556-2016
• Admitted 1978
• Hearing 2 February 2017
• Reasons 16 February 2017
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
Between 15 February and 20 April 2016, the respondent had improperly transferred £1,204,000 from client account to his personal account and used those monies for his own purposes, in breach of rule 20.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 2, 4, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011. In so doing, he had acted dishonestly.
He had failed to remedy breaches of the rules promptly on discovery, in breach of rule 7 thereof, allowing a cash shortage to exist in the client account from 29 March to 15 June 2016.
He had failed to reconcile his books of accounts, in breach of rule 29.12 of the rules.
The respondent’s motivation for his misconduct was to support his gambling problem.
There had been no actual loss to clients, in that the money used by the respondent had been repaid in full. However, there was a real risk that he might have been unable to repay the money.
The respondent’s conduct was dishonest, deliberate, calculated and repeated.
The respondent’s behaviour in the period February to April 2016 was completely out of character and appeared to have been triggered by a build-up of stress. There was no medical evidence to help explain his state of mind at the time of his misconduct, but it was accepted that the death of a colleague and a friend, and issues concerning insurance claims against the firm, would have preyed on the respondent’s mind.
While it was to the respondent’s credit that he had repaid the sums he had misused and that the misconduct had occurred within a short period in a long and good career, there were no exceptional circumstances such that any lesser sanction than striking off was appropriate.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £5,600.