A Sydney defence solicitor, whose partner worked for the NSW Crime Commission (NSWCC), received excessive legal fees from the confiscated proceeds of crime, the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) has found.
A PIC report recommended that Salina Sadiq, the sole member of the firm Lloyd Truman Sadiq Solicitors and a former winner of the NSW Law Society’s president's award for her pro bono work, should face professional sanctions by the NSW Legal Services Commissioner (LSC) for her alleged involvement in the matter.
Sadiq, a registered migration agent, was given $150,000 in 2008 to represent three co-accused who eventually had their charges withdrawn, the report said.
The terms of the settlement also awarded the NSWCC $100,000 for its legal costs.
In another matter filed by the NSWCC in court the same year - that resulted in a guilty plea - Sadiq was paid $70,000.
“Again, the amount allowed for reasonable legal expenses was thus greatly in excess of the amount of expenses actually incurred,” said the PIC, before adding that Sadiq “derived a financial benefit substantially in excess of what would have been ‘reasonable’ legal expenses in the circumstances”.
The PIC has recommended Sadiq's partner, Lou Novakovic, be considered for prosecution for misconduct, giving misleading evidence and allegedly providing favourable work to Sadiq while he worked as an accountant for the NSWCC.
It did not recommend criminal prosecution for Sadiq but did call on the LSC to look at her alleged actions.
“Whilst it is beyond the scope of the PIC’s statutory functions to express an assessment or opinion as to whether Ms Sadiq’s practices amounted to conduct short of that required of a legal practitioner, it is of the view that there was evidence before it which warrants further examination in that regard by the relevant disciplinary body,” said the report.
It added that the PIC is of the opinion that consideration should be given to the taking of action against Sadiq in relation to possible professional misconduct, or possible unsatisfactory professional conduct.
When contacted by Lawyers Weekly about the possible disciplinary action, Legal Services Commissioner Steve Mark was unable to confirm or deny whether his office had received or initiated a complaint about Sadiq’s conduct.
Lawyers Weekly also contacted Lloyd Truman Sadiq Solicitors for comment but received no response.
In the PIC report, Sadiq is the subject of “substantial allegations”, including that she overcharged clients for legal services; that she made unjustified and excessive claims for costs and misled clients in relation to those costs; that she knowingly concealed matters relating to her financial affairs in order to avoid her taxation and/or professional obligations and/or liabilities, and that she was an accessory to the abuse of office of her partner, Novakovic.
Prior to becoming the principal of Lloyd Truman, Sadiq, who speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, French and English, worked as a solicitor for Roach and Halligan.