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Veteran solicitor fined for using client account as bank
29 May 2024

A veteran solicitor and his firm have been fined a total of more than £27,000 for allowing the client account to be used as a banking facility.

Ron Hogan, owner of Mayfair firm Dewar Hogan, was found by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to have allowed a partner and his family member to make multiple payments in and out of the client account. There was no underlying legal transaction or a service forming part of a solicitor’s a services, and this arrangement lasted for almost 10 years until 2022.

Hogan, a solicitor for 45 years, was fined £14,528 and ordered to pay £1,350 costs after the SRA deemed that the misuse of the client account was ‘inherently serious’ and repeated over ledgers for a significant period.

Hogan, as an experienced solicitor, was fully responsible for his reckless conduct and had showed only ‘limited’ insight, the SRA said. But it noted that he received no financial benefit and there was no evidence of any actual harm caused to any party.

The SRA said: ‘The level of culpability, the potential for significant harm, the fact that these were not simply minor breaches of the rules, and the need to protect the public and the reputation of the legal profession means this matter requires a greater sanction.’

Meanwhile, Dewar Hogan has been fined £12,777 and must pay £1,350 costs over the banking facility allegation and a further allegation of breaching money laundering regulations.

The SRA found that, from 2008 to 2017, the firm failed to establish and maintain appropriate risk-sensitive anti-money laundering policies and procedures. It also failed to take appropriate measures to ensure that all relevant employees were made aware of money laundering laws. Non-compliance continued after the regulations were changed in 2017.

The SRA said non-compliance had the potential to cause serious harm, although there was no evidence of any such in this case. The firm co-operated with the regulator and has remedied the breaches.

Source: The Law Society Gazette, 28th May 2024

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