News release

Solicitor struck off for dishonestly misusing client money

A solicitor has been struck off for failing to handle properly funds that clients had entrusted to him.

Ashok Kumar Sancheti was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) after a three-day hearing. The tribunal heard how Mr Sancheti failed to pay funds he'd been given to settle a dispute out of court, and that he converted £3.2 million of client funds into a banker's draft.

In a prosecution brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), it was also alleged that Mr Sancheti had breached a professional undertaking, failed to account for funds involved in that undertaking and failed to pay £135,000 of stamp duty on behalf of a client. In all, the SDT found ten allegations against Mr Sancheti proven, with four of them involving dishonesty.

Mr Sancheti formerly practised as a director and member of Morgan Walker LLP and then as sole director of Morgan Walker Solicitors Limited, both in Chancery Lane, London. Morgan Walker was closed down by the SRA in March 2012 and Mr Sancheti was suspended from practising.

In passing sentence, the SDT said this case was “about as serious as it gets”. As well as striking off Mr Sancheti, the tribunal also ordered him to pay £106,545 towards costs, with the final amount to be finalised at a later date.

Gordon Ramsay, SRA Director of Legal and Enforcement, said: "Solicitors hold positions of trust, and the Principles we expect them to abide by state they must act with integrity and maintain that trust that the public puts in them. Those solicitors that fail to uphold these Principles can expect to face severe consequences.

"In Mr Sancheti's case, he misused significant sums of clients' money that had been entrusted to him. The consequences for these clients could have been devastating. Striking him off was clearly appropriate."

Mr Sancheti qualified to practise in England and Wales in 1999 having previously practised abroad. He has 21 days from the publication of the SDT decision to appeal.

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