RESPONDING TO fraud and misappropriation discoveries on the Gold Coast, the Queensland Law Society has closed down a solicitor’s practice and begun the arduous process of identifying all potentially affected clients.
The closure followed admissions by the solicitor that he had forged his clients’ signatures on mortgages, borrowed money against the security of clients’ properties without their knowledge or consent and taken the money for his own use as well as misappropriating money received for stamp duty payments.
The practising certificate of the solicitor was cancelled and his practice at Bundall on the Gold Coast was placed into receivership following his admissions.
Society president Glenn Ferguson said the society is now undertaking a comprehensive audit of the man’s seized records to identify the scope of his “shocking” fraud and theft, and stated that at this point it seemed as though at least $550,000 was missing. “Our auditors are combing through [the man’s] files and this initial amount will undoubtedly rise,” he said.
Acknowledging the potential effect on the solicitor’s clients, the society is now appealing to those who may have been affected by the fraud so that they might be reassured that they are protected. “I want to assure all of [the solicitor’s] former clients that their legitimate interests will be protected by the Fidelity Guarantee Fund, which is funded by all solicitors to provide this protection and no legitimate loss will be refused, Ferguson said.