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Barrister who stole millions makes ‘absurd’ request to remain on roll

A barrister who used an elaborate Ponzi scheme to steal millions has been slammed by a tribunal for requesting to remain on the roll despite the extent of his deception.

user iconNaomi Neilson 04 April 2024 Big Law
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For eight years, barrister Anthony David Gray stole more than $18 million from the 46 friends, family and associates he roped into a Ponzi scheme that promised risk-free investments with high returns.

While the scheme was set up to pay older investors with funds from new investors, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) said Gray stole enough to “maintain his lifestyle”.

When it collapsed in May 2017, investors were left out of pocket $12.5 million. By then, Gray was in New Zealand.

 
 

Justice Martin Burns said Gray “used his standing as a solicitor and, later, as a barrister, to induce the complainants to invest”.

“He used his position as a legal practitioner to perpetuate an elaborate fraud over many years, causing enormous loss to those innocent members of the community who had the misfortune to be drawn in by him,” Justice Burns said in his recent judgment.

After Gray was extradited to Queensland in January 2019, a District Court handed down an imprisonment sentence of 10 years and six months for one charge and a concurrent two years on another.

He was released on parole after serving three years and six months.

In an August 2023 disciplinary application, the Legal Services Commissioner asked QCAT to find Gray guilty of professional misconduct and recommend his name be removed from the roll.

In the application, the commissioner brought a second charge for Gray’s theft of $150,000 from a client in 2015.

The tribunal was told Gray informed the client to transfer him the money because he needed it to meet with an insurer to settle a judgment debt. No such meeting ever took place.

Whenever the client followed up, Gray gave “general assurance” and promised he was “almost there now”.

While Gray accepted being struck off was the usual punishment, he told Justice Burns he should be allowed to continue to practise on a restricted basis because it would “benefit others and the profession”.

Gray explained he performed volunteer work with other prisoners while in custody and said this meant he could be a “much better criminal lawyer now with the benefit of this experience”.

The submission was slammed as “deeply concerning” by Justice Burns, who found Gray continued to “minimise his offending”.

In a sworn affidavit, Gray said that despite the scheme going “horribly wrong”, he was “actively engaged” in legal practice “without reward”.

“Any notion that Gray’s deceit was motivated by anything other than greed is as absurd as his description of the Ponzi scheme as an ‘investment scheme which went horribly wrong’.

“That he is prepared to swear these things not only establishes an absence of any proper insight, it evidences how readily he is prepared to resort to deception to suit his own purposes,” Justice Burns said.

Justice Burns said the only appropriate punishment was the recommendation Gray be removed from the roll.

“Honesty and integrity are, of course, qualities that form the bedrock of any person’s fitness to engage in legal practice, but Gray has shown himself to be fundamentally dishonest and devoid of any integrity,” Justice Burns said.