A law firm revenue controller given a suspended jail sentence after diverting £32,000 in payments meant for suppliers to his own bank account has been banned from working in the profession.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has made Ian Burleton subject to an order under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974, which prevents him from working in the profession without its permission.
In 2019, Mr Burleton pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position, contrary to section 4 of the Fraud Act 2006, and was handed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years, as well as 180 hours of unpaid work and a 30-day rehabilitation order.
He worked as a revenue controller for an unnamed City law firm and was responsible for setting up and scheduling payments to the firm’s service providers.
Over the course of 18 months, he diverted 13 payments totalling £32,000 meant for a service provider into his personal bank accounts.
His employer made a report to Action Fraud and it was passed to the City of London Police’s fraud squad to investigate.
The firm’s suspicions were initially raised after one of the service providers claimed it had not been paid for three consecutive months.
An inspection of the banking records revealed that Mr Burleton had changed the account details on the invoices for this service provider, and diverted three payments into his own bank account.
He was dismissed and further investigation showed he had diverted an additional 10 payments to a second account in his name in an attempt to conceal the funds.
Speaking at the time of the sentence, Detective Constable Simon Andrews said: “Burleton was a wholly deceitful person, abusing the trust put in him by his employer and exploiting his knowledge of their systems to manipulate those around him, including service providers.”
In defence of his actions, Mr Burleton claimed his offending was triggered by large child maintenance bills he needed to pay.
However, analysis of his outgoing payments revealed evidence of him spending large sums of money on flights, holidays and at expensive bars and restaurants.