A conveyancer has been sentenced to seven years and six months in prison after he was found guilty of stealing client money having taken charge of an established firm.
Bolton Crown court heard how in 2012, Andrew Davies took over Robert Meaton & Co when the owner fell ill and later died.
He then conducted a stream of fraudulent activities such as forging legal documents, Building Regulation certificates and bank statements.
It was also revealed that Davies had kept £381,000 in the firm’s client account, rather than paying off a client’s mortgage. Whilst he used this money to fund his own wages and bills, he blamed a bank administrative error, using a false document to indicate that the transfer had actually been successful.
In another instance, he had taken money for a mortgage even though the sale had collapsed, transferring the funds into a false account.
Following an investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 2013 which found a £50,000 shortfall in the firm’s client account, Davies continued to produce false documents. When the firm was eventually shut down a year later, he denied his involvement at firms, stating that the fraud had been carried out by employees. It was only after a further 14 forged documents were uncovered when he admitted he was guilty.
He pleaded guilty to over 40 charges including forgery, fraud and money laundering.
Bolton Crown court heard that his actions resulted in millions of pounds worth of losses to both the firms’ insurers and the regulator.
Commenting on Davies’ conduct and the resulting impact was Detective Sergeant Julian Scarsbrook of Greater Manchester Police’s economic crime unit who said: ‘Solicitors are people that we trust in some of the most stressful times of our lives, but Davies has completely undermined this role through his deceitful and absolutely illegal actions. His corrupt actions tarnished the excellent reputation of the firm he took over, and the hard-working employees at his company, who had no idea about Davies’ dishonest dealings.’