A solicitor who withdrew over £250,000 of client money before disappearing – leaving his trainee to pick up the pieces – has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Nicholas Paul Tsioupras, a sole practitioner based in North London, was found to have dishonestly withdrawn more than a quarter of a million pounds from his firm’s client account over the course of two months, before telling his trainee via email that he had closed the firm and ‘he wouldn’t be around for a while’.
According to the judgment, Tsioupras told the trainee solicitor that ‘obviously there are going to be a few angry clients’ but that the closure of the firm would be covered by his indemnity insurance. When the trainee solicitor went to his home address to look for him, Tsioupras’s brother told him he had gone travelling in Malaysia.
According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Tsioupras had withdrawn £415,221 from the client account over four transactions and £252,199 had been transferred to an account in his name. The tribunal said the respondent’s conduct had been ‘disgraceful’ and caused his clients financial loss. It added that his culpability was ‘very high’, that he had acted dishonestly, without integrity and had damaged public trust.
It added that the trainee solicitor had acted ‘very commendably’ in informing the SRA and in ‘trying to appease some very angry and frustrated clients’.
Tsioupras, who did not attend the hearing and did not reply to the SRA, was struck off by the tribunal and ordered to pay costs of £8,361.