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A Liverpool-based sports lawyer, who is the subject of inquiries into allegations of money laundering and corruption, is involved in a court action against the Law Society.
Kevin Dooley, whose clients included Leeds United FC signing Robbie Fowler, is the subject of a long-running fraud and money laundering inquiry by the Law Society's regulatory branch, the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS) as well as Merseyside police. Dooley, who is currently on police bail after his arrest in November, was subject to a judgment last week by Mr Justice Lightman, who refused him access to money arising out of bills he charged clients before his firm was shut down. The OSS closed his two-office Liverpool firm Dooley & Co in June 2000. Dooley is liable to pay the costs of Liverpool firm Bermans, which took over the management of Dooleys after it was raided. The bill currently totals at least £300,000 and is continuing to increase. In court last week (23 November), Judge Lightman delayed his decision on whether Dooley could challenge the amount billed by the solicitors until a Court of Appeal decision in February. Judge Lightman allowed Dooley supervised access to his former firm's files for the purposes of pursuing unpaid bills, but denied him money for work he had done before the intervention. The money instead is vested in the Law Society. Details of the OSS allegations against Dooley became public after his unsuccessful appeal in the High Court against the intervention or raid of his practice. The case was put before Mr Justice Neuberger and held in secret, but reporting restrictions were subsequently lifted. Consultant solicitor Andrew Hopper QC has been instructed on behalf of the Law Society in the investigation. In 1997, Vanborough Investments instructed Dooley to receive and 'block' £2.5m in his client account. The funds were later sent to accounts in London, Switzerland, Omagh and Hong Kong, a scheme which the OSS claims may have been a laundering scam. Judge Neuberger said in 1997 that Dooley became involved in the financing of a power plant in Central America, involving a company named Central American Energy Partners. The judge said that this was tied up with a "classic bank fraud". Court papers revealed that Dooley had been approached by John Silver in 1995 to act for two clients in a proposed 'leveraged trading programme', concerning turning a $500,000 (£352,000) investment into $100m (£70.44m). The OSS claims that it bore the hallmarks of a bank investment fraud. The transaction did not eventuate.