Lawyers behaving badly!

Earlier this month, Ross McKay, 39, a conveyancing solicitor who fixed property deals for mortgage fraudsters has been jailed for seven years. He was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court and found guilty of three offences of money laundering.

McKay provided conveyancing services to a criminal gang to launder money made from drug-dealing, tax evasion mortgage and property fraud. McKay was responsible for over 88 property transactions for various criminals valuing at £10.8m.

The Police accused McKay of being the gang’s ‘go to’ solicitor as they knew he would carry out property transactions without asking questions about the nature of their business, the sources of the deposits made or the connections between parties in the transactions.

Senior financial investigator Adrian Ladkin, of Greater Manchester Police’s economic crime unit, said: “McKay was fully aware that the purpose of the transactions was to launder criminal proceeds and he was deliberately dishonest in facilitating them.”

Judge Timothy Smith, told McKay that he was expected to act with the “utmost integrity and honesty” in his role as a solicitor. Further, he told McKay “In trial you portrayed yourself as being an average solicitor, one that helped to support your family, but any outward show of professionalism was a charade.”

McKay’s involvement was uncovered through an investigation run by the economic crime unit into the activities of criminal gang members.

Additionally, this month The Bar Standards Board (BSB) have published a regulatory decision against a barrister, Richard Thomas Keogh, who has been reprimanded and fined £750 for ‘inadvertently’ sending cocaine to unknown chambers in April.

The BSB said that he failed to act with integrity and behaved in a way which was likely to diminish trust in the profession and which could be seen by the public as undermining his integrity.

The sanction, was issued through a ‘determination by consent’, meaning the case would not be sent to the Bar’s disciplinary tribunal.

Keogh also received a police caution for possession of a class A drug.

Lastly, before The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in November, Immigration lawyer, Sandia Kumari Pamma admitted all the allegations, including dishonesty, for faking a sicknote for her unsuspecting client.

Pamma was alleged to have:

1.      Falsified a doctor’s statement of fitness for work to mislead the immigration and asylum chamber that her client was ill and could not attend,  

2.      Repeated this statement to the director of her firm,

3.      Made a written application for an adjournment based on the false statement, and

4.       Asked another solicitor to renew the application after the request for an adjournment was initially refused.

Pamma admitted trying to delay a hearing with a false document because she was not up to speed with the case but, asked for leniency because of her exceptional personal circumstances.

The tribunal accepted that she went through a series of difficult events in her personal life that caused depression. Further, the tribunal agreed that while any act of dishonesty is ‘extremely serious’, Pamma’s judgement was impaired. They accepted that her condition caused her to act out of character and that the pressure on her was exceptional.

Pamma was suspended indefinitely and advised not to reapply to the roll for at least five years. She must also pay £7,361 in costs.

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