Dishonest Solicitor Struck Off For Condoning Property Overpayment
A solicitor guilty of ‘dishonest conduct’ has been struck off the roll by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) for failing to protect the best interests of his client after allowing a property to be purchased significantly over the asking price.
A resident of Saudi Arabia instructed the conveyancing services of ALD Legal Solicitors to oversee and manage the purchase of a UK property.
Milan Patel, sole director of the law firm, sourced the property and organised the sale.
Unbeknownst to his client, the property they were about to buy was purchased by Patel’s business partner and fellow client on behalf of the firm HB Consultants moments before the Saudi Arabian client was set to complete.
Following the sub-sale, HB Consultants then immediately resold the property to the Saudi Arabian client for £500,000.
Preying on the fact that his client was vulnerable and unaware, Patel ‘deceived’ and acted strictly for ‘personal financial gain’ according to the tribunal.
According to the tribunal, allowing the £62,000 overpayment to take place displayed a deep lack of concern for his client’s best interests and highlighted a planned, premeditated’ attempt to deceive and manipulate Patel’s position of trust.
Instead of fulfilling his compliance obligations, Patel exploited the situation for financial gain.
The tribunal also criticised the actions for failing to carry out ‘enhanced due diligence’ by failing to recognise the importance of carrying out money laundering regulations before accepting the instruction in the first place. The SDT heard that Patel’s foreign client was not asked to provide identification until four days prior to completion.
Patel was also found guilty of 13 more offences which included misappropriating client money.
Overall, Patel was struck off and ordered to pay costs amounting to £27,412 for his consistently dishonest behaviour.
Are you surprised that this perceived property fraud has not led to criminal charges being lodged against Patel? Should the sanctions have been more severe?