A Sydney based solicitor has scammed approximately $30 million from clients in a fake investment scheme.
Revelations in The Australian Financial Review claim 66-year-old solicitor, John Bradfield, exploited the bond of trust between solicitor and client to get funds for his phoney mortgage scheme.
“It’s very disappointing from the professional point of view to come across this case,” said CEO of Carter Newell, Dr Peter Ellender.
“Its appalling that somebody in that position would have appeared to create such a scheme that defrauds people,” he added.
Bradfield’s law firm, Bradfield Anderson Solictors, had been operating in the Dural area for more than 40 years and he was an active member of the Dural Rotary Club for equally as long.
Dr Ellender said using his information about clients for commercial gain, is something that is very clearly highlighted in the profession as something you just don’t do.
“One would hope its an isolated case, but it looks like its been going on for many years, inevitably, in all industries and professions, there will be a few people who think they can get away with it- in this case he has not got away with it- but has damaged a lot of people on the way through.”
Questions are also being raised about the NSW Law Society’s actions throughout the revelations.
It is alleged a former colleague of Bradfield’s had a solicitor write to the law society on November 2, 2008, about the solicitor’s actions, but they did not suspend his license until December 23.
Dural solicitor, Peter Dawson, told the society his clients had been trying to recover their money from Bradfield since December 2007.
A Legal Services Commissioner document regarding Bradfield’s suspension of practice stated the decision to take this action was not made until December 18, 2008.
The document stated that Bradfield had breached four sections of the Legal Profession Act, 2004, misappropriated trust funds, and borrowed funds in breach of the Professional Conduct and Practice Rules.
The proceedings were instigated by the society and found Bradfield to be “not a fit and proper person”.
During the six week period between the letter and the action, Bradfield continued to solicit funds from clients and friends to the tune of $500,000, which like the other millions, is now lost.
The collapse of Bradfield’s scheme and the lack of insurance for his mislead clients, has exposed the holes in the enforcement procedures of the society, and its Fidelity Fund.
Bradfield kept no financial records of his transactions and often paid interest to the duped investors in cash or by cheque. Nine months after the society suspended him, they are still trying to find out what he has done with the millions.
The NSW Law Society, NSW Bar Association and the Legal Services Commissioner did not return calls to The New Lawyer.