SDT finds Former partner ‘sloppy, lazy and careless’ in handling of conveyancing transactions
‘Sloppy, lazy and careless’ were the words used to describe a former law firm compliance and money laundering reporting officer on the way he dealt with a number of conveyancing transactions.
A former partner at Maurice Smiths Solicitors in Yorkshire, Anthony Gayle carried out five conveyancing transactions between 2005 and 2014, in which the properties were ‘transferred, removed, sold and re-mortgaged without appropriate knowledge, instruction or consent’ according to the applicant, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
As opposed to being carried out at the client’s direction, the transactions allegedly were undertaken under the instruction of another individual; for example, in one case this was the father of a client.
The clients then went on to complain to the SRA about the way the transactions had been handled.
In an interview with the regulator, according to the judgment, the former partner confirmed that the instructions had come from a third party. He also said that where there the source of funds was concerned, he was unable to recall making the related enquiries.
As well as being fined £10,000, Gale was ordered to pay £28,291 in costs, with the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal placing an indefinite ban on him from being the owner of an authorised body, a sole practitioner, or a compliance officer.
Whilst the judgment found that no harm to clients had been caused, the harm to the profession was significant.
It did, however, accept that Gale had not mislead the regulator or tribunal and that he had been cooperative throughout.