Ban for solicitor who enabled £62,000 overpayment on property
A solicitor who allowed his client an overpayment for a property has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Milan Patel was sole director of ALD Legal Solicitors in Harrow when he was instructed by a resident of Saudi Arabia to purchase a UK property on his behalf.
According to the judgment, a sub-sale transaction took place on the day of completion – the property was transferred from the seller to a firm called HB Consultants Ltd for £438,000. The client, unaware of this, then bought the property from HB Consultants for £500,000.
The tribunal found that Patel’s ‘state of knowledge of the facts at the material time was that he was well aware that HB Consultants Limited purchased the property for £438,000 then immediately resold it to [his client] for £500,000’.
Patel also had a commercial relationship with HB, who was Patel’s business partner and a client of the law firm, the tribunal found. It stated that Patel had shown a ‘flagrant disregard’ for his client’s best interests. It found his conduct to have been dishonest.
The tribunal found, on separate allegations, that Patel misappropriated client money in 13 improper payments, totalling £277,000, causing a shortfall in the client account.
It also found that Patel failed to comply with money laundering regulations when dealing with his Saudi client, whose place of residence should have merited more due diligence checks. The judgment states that the client did not supply any identification documents until four days before the completion of the property sale.
Patel, who did not attend the tribunal, was struck off and ordered to pay costs of £27,412. The tribunal said his conduct was driven by ‘personal financial gain’ and was ‘planned, premeditated and concealed over a protracted period of time’.
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