Former Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) partner Vinay Veneik sullied the reputation of the legal profession through misuse of client monies, according to recent findings by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).
While at BLP commercial property lawyer Veneik neglected to pay stamp duty and Land Registry fees relating to eight transactions for one client – in some cases for almost four years after the deals in question closed.
He then used client monies intended for other purposes to pay the stamp duty and cover the subsequent penalties incurred.
In total Veneik made “improper withdrawals” and misued client monies totalling £558,234 over a period of seven years.
The findings state that Veneik’s conduct was “dishonest by the standards of reasonable and honest people”, but concluded that “the level of dishonesty (…) was at the lower end of the scale”.
The ruling continued: “The respondent’s clients had neither lost money nor were they ever at risk of losing money. It was the profession as a whole that had had its reputation sullied.”
Veneik resigned from BLP on 14 January 2008 and was investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which referred the case to the SDT. The tribunal struck him off at the end of last year and ordered him to pay £8,134.70 in costs.
It is understood that Veneik has not appealed the decision. Any appeal would have had to have been made within 14 days of the date of the finding, which was published last month.
Veneik was represented by Browne Jacobson partner Derek Bambury, while the SRA was represented by David Barton of David Barton Solicitor Advocate.