News release

Solicitor struck-off for using clients' cash

A solicitor has been struck off for using nearly £100,000 of his clients' money for his own purposes.

Ziad Al-Rawi, of Longfield, Kent, made withdrawals from his client account of £96,000. He used the improper withdrawals for a variety of purposes, including to re-pay a personal loan and to pay for an internet marketing course, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) heard last week.

Mr Al-Rawi was working at his firm Ashton Page in Hounslow at the time of the offences. In a case brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on Tuesday 4 March, the tribunal heard that as well making improper withdrawals from the client account, Mr Al-Rawi failed to make-up the shortfall promptly, and did not make the necessary regular checks on the client account. The SRA closed down Ashton Page in January 2013 when it discovered client money had been used in this way.

In mitigation, Mr Al-Rawi said that the matter arose because of personal and professional circumstances at the time, that the money was repaid to clients, and that he was of previous good character. The tribunal found that he had acted dishonestly, and as well as striking Mr Al-Rawi off the roll of solicitors, ordered him to pay £11,000 costs.

Gordon Ramsay, SRA Director of Enforcement, said: "Solicitors hold positions of trust, and the Principles we ask 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 this case, Mr Al-Rawi used money that did not belong to him without permission. This is clearly dishonest, and dishonesty will not be tolerated in the profession."

Mr Al-Rawi has 21 days from the SDT's publication of its decision to appeal.

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