Saturday, September 18, 2021

UK solicitor sentenced to four years in prison over £2.3m fraud

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A former senior partner has been jailed for four years after defrauding his firm out of a total of £2.3m. Andrew Davies, 59, paid personal invoices to himself from the business and also under-declared £1.1m in stamp duty land tax to HMRC over nine years.

Davies pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by false representation at Reading Crown Court in 2019 and was sentenced in January this year to four years’ imprisonment. Reporting restrictions were imposed until the conviction of a property developer, Stephen Allan, this month. The 62-year-old from Bishop’s Stortford was convicted at Reading Crown Court on one count of money laundering and jailed for three years.

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In a statement, police said the convictions and sentencing related to a solicitor’s firm in Berkshire being defrauded out of £2.3m between 2010 and 2017. The  statement did not name the firm, but a Solicitors Regulation Authority notice has previously stated that Davies worked for Reading firm Pitmans LLP, which has since become part of another practice.

As well as the personal invoices and under-declared SDLT, Davies raised invoices to pay more than £1.16m to Allan, a client to the firm. Allan then made smaller payments into Davies’ personal account and kept around £400,000.

Davies extracted funds from the firm’s client account, paying it to Allan in transactions described as ‘fees’, but for no known work.

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Davies has already been struck by the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal and ordered to pay £17,000 in costs.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Katie Taylor of Thames Valley Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: ‘In this case a solicitor who was trusted to safeguard client funds, abused this position and systematically defrauded his firm of large sums of money for his own benefit.

‘He then used a corrupt relationship to launder the proceeds of his crime through a property developer. These professional enablers of organised crime represent a significant risk and we hope that the conviction and sentence in this case will act as a deterrent to others.’

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