SCAMMER SOLICITORS: British legal eagle fined after defrauding ‘vulnerable’ cancer sufferer

Croydon – VIJAY SHAH via NEIL ROSE and Legal Futures

A ‘dodgy’ solicitor who defrauded one of their clients for the sum of £175,000 (USD $222,775) to plug a hole in his firm’s accounts has been fined a total of £63,000 ($80,199) after being brought to book, according to legal website Legal Futures.

In October last year, the lawyer, Neil Adrian Aiston, was hauled in front of the regulatory agency the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) after he persuaded one of his clients to give the £175,000 as an unsecured loan to another of the solicitor’s clients. The loaner was a longstanding user of Aiston’s services, having worked with the legal professional for thirty-five years, but was described as ‘vulnerable’, meaning they were at risk of being exploited due to their mental health issues. The client was also experiencing cancer, the Tribunal accepted.

Image: Hloom via Flickr / CC BY-SA, 401(K) 2013 hloom.com

 

Aiston, whose solicitors’ firm was facing troubles, alongside an unspecified outside ‘intervention’ into his business, took the money and instead used it to fill a hole in his office accounts instead. The hole came about after the lawyer took money from other clients for another loan he gave to another customer of his practice. Aiston failed to repay the loan and the client subsequently reported him to authorities.

Aiston was based in Croydon, just south of London, and had been a qualified practitioner since 1979. The client who lost their money told the Tribunal he felt ‘threatened, manipulated and groomed’ after Aiston pressured him into signing documents establishing the loan which he was unable to fully read. Aiston also told the client that he would not pay up the proceeds of a property transaction undertaken by the fraud victim unless he signed over the loan money, the Tribunal also heard. Aiston had explicit knowledge of the client’s health problems, yet continued with the deception.

A statement from the Tribunal said “[Mr Aiston] knew that he was in urgent need of funds as he was facing the prospect of an intervention. [He] has clearly considered that one way of achieving this was to ensure that Client 1 repay the monies that he owed…’

‘[His] conduct was about as dishonest as it could get. [He] had engineered this loan directly for his own benefit in an attempt to rectify the firm’s finances.”

Aiston was described as behaving with conduct that was “was about as dishonest as it could get”, and his failure to return the loan meant the client would now be seeking the money from the Solicitors Compensation Fund, according to Legal Futures.

In his witness statement, Aiston wrote: “I deeply regret the action I took and struggle to understand why I agreed to help a desperate client on that occasion when nearly 40 years’ practice told me not to do so.

‘All I can say is that I had known the client concerned for over 10 years, trusted his statements as to repayment, when I should not even have entertained his request, and as a result I will rightly be struck from the roll.

‘I did not benefit financially or in any other way, personal or through my firm.”

The Tribunal ruled that Aiston had acted when there was a conflict of interest and had been dishonest. He had ‘manipulated’ the client and had brought his profession into disrepute with his fraudulent actions.

In addition to the huge fine, the SDT ordered that Neil Adrian Aiston be struck off from the solicitors’ register and the fraudster was also found guilty of breaching accounting regulations and failing in his professional duties as a certified legal practitioner.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Eli Pressman, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/BarnetWills

“Solicitor “about as dishonest as it could get”” – Neil Rose, Legal Futures/Legal Futures Publishing Limited (3 October 2018) https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/solicitor-about-as-dishonest-as-it-could-get

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Paying with $100 Bills – Businessman Transaction” – Hloom Templates, Flickr (15 July 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/95051110@N07/28394541020

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