A former partner at legacy firm Blake Lapthorn has agreed to remove his name from the roll of practising solicitors after misusing £222,000 of client funds.
An investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) found David Salt transferred funds from clients’ accounts without their permission on five occasions, between 2005 and 2008. The value of the withdrawals ranged from £28,660 to £75,000.
None of the clients involved had given Salt their written permission and had no knowledge that the withdrawals had taken place. Salt admitted participating in ‘teeming and lading’, the act of using clients’ money for the benefit of another client.
Salt also failed to tell anyone else at the firm about the transfers, which were eventually spotted by Blake Lapthorn’s compliance team in 2012. The team initially spotted a shortfall of £39,000 on a client’s account, which increased to £50,300 due to interest for a late payment of stamp duty.
Blake Morgan managing partner Walter Cha said: “We reported this matter to the SRA as soon as it was identified following Mr Salt’s departure from the firm in 2011.”
Salt ceased practising as a solicitor in 2012. At the time of the events he suffered from “significant ill health”, which still persists today.
Because of his poor health and the fact that Salt no longer works as a solicitor the case was not passed to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Instead he has agreed not to work in the legal services sector in the future and remove his name from the solicitors’ roll. Salt has also agreed to pay the SRA’s costs of £1,350.
In 2010 former Berwin Leighton Paisner property partner Vinay Veneik was found to have misused client monies totalling £558,234. Veneik neglected to pay stamp duty and Land Registry fees for eight transactions and was subsequently disbarred.
However, in September Veneik re-emerged at Shoosmiths where he is now working as a consultant within the firm’s real estate practice. Shoosmiths CEO Claire Rowe told The Lawyer that the firm was “pleased to offer him the opportunity” to work within private practice and “potentially regain his solicitor status”.