News release

Solicitor struck off for 'misusing clients' cash

An Ashton-Under-Lyne solicitor has been struck off after using client funds to prop up his ailing firm.

Boma Ellis-Dokubo (formerly) of Beevers Solicitors in Booth Street, was struck off last week by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). The tribunal found five counts of dishonesty against Mr Ellis-Dokubo proven at its hearing that lasted from 2- 3 September.

Beevers Solicitors was closed down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in December 2012 when the misconduct was discovered. The SRA brought the prosecutions against Mr Ellis-Dokubo and partner Karibo Lawson.

The tribunal found nine allegations against Mr Ellis-Dokubo proven, including failing to act in the best interest of clients, transferring money from the client account to the office account without sending a bill of costs or other written notification to the client, retaining client monies without proper reason, making statements which he knew to be untrue and failing to notify the SRA that Beevers Solicitors was in serious financial difficulty.

So far, the SRA has paid clients owed money by Beevers Solicitors grants totalling £137,372.74 from its Compensation Fund, with more applications in the pipeline.

As well as striking off Mr Ellis-Dokubo, he was ordered to pay costs of £25,000. Mr Ellis-Dokubo, of Grotton, Lancashire, was not present at the tribunal due to ill health. Through a representative, he admitted the allegations, but denied acting dishonestly. The tribunal said it would have struck Mr Ellis Dokubo off without the dishonesty allegations as there were serious breaches of rules which were deliberate and took place over a considerable period of time.

In the same hearing, Mr Lawson, of Gately, Cheshire, admitted the seven similar allegations against him. He was suspended for two years and ordered to pay costs of £4,000 The Tribunal said that while Mr Lawson co-operated with the SRA at the hearing and was not involved with the dishonesty, he should have reported to the SRA that things were going wrong with the firm when he became aware of them in the mid 2000s. His suspension reflects the seriousness of his breach of rules.

Gordon Ramsay, SRA Director of Legal Enforcement, said: "Solicitors are placed in a position of trust. The Principles we expect them to abide by state they must act with integrity and maintain that trust that the public puts in them. "Specifically, that trust involves clients asking solicitors to handle their money. When solicitors abuse that trust and clients suffer financial loss, we will look for severe sanctions.

"Mr Ellis Dokubo used client monies without permission and for purposes that are simply not allowed, so we welcome the tribunal's decision.

"And as a partner in the firm, Mr Lawson had the opportunity to report the wrongdoings. We are pleased to note the tribunal’s findings in that regard."

Mr Ellis-Dokubo and Mr Lawson have 21 days from the SDT's publication of its judgement to appeal.  

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