Ex-Fulbright partner admits stealing £100k from firm

Former Fulbright & Jaworski partner Richard Simkin and his office manager wife Zakia Sharif have pleaded guilty to stealing £100,000 from the firm.

The couple hid their relationship from the firm after Sharif was appointed to the £95,000-a-year office manager position in 2005 on Simkin’s recommendation, The Times reports.

The pair appeared at the Old Bailey earlier this week charged with false accounting and fraud.

Simkin had admitted his role in the theft, but Sharif initially denied the charges, changing her plea in all but two of the seven charges yesterday after being told she could face an 18-month prison term.

Sharif falsely claimed she had two law degrees from King’s College London to secure her job at Fulbright. After being dismissed from Fulbright in 2008 she took a position at Holman Fenwick Willan, earning a salary of £160,000 after again lying about her qualifications.

The court heard how the couple had spent money staying in luxury hotels in Mexico City and Hong Kong while falsifying expense invoices to show that the money had been spent on recruitment agencies.

Other claims included £2,400 for a signed photo of boxer Muhammed Ali, £920 for a Louis Vuitton key holder and £1,400 for Deschamps silk sheets.

The couple, who have a £1.5m home in Holland Park, both claimed legal aid for their defence costs but have been told they could face “substantial” fines, costs and compensation payments.

The pair will be sentenced in March.

Simkin, a former head of litigation at Reed Smith legacy firm Richards Butler, has been struck off the solicitor roll while Sharif has been barred from working as a legal executive.