A partner who used his law firm’s office and client accounts as personal banking facilities has been fined £2,000 by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Iqbal Singh Sekhon, at the time a partner at Bradford firm Sekhon & Firth, received the maximum fine the SRA can issue without sending him to a disciplinary tribunal after the pair reached a regulatory settlement agreement.
Mr Sekhon, who qualified in 1999, had a third party pay £400,000 into the firm’s office account back in 2009. The money was “in partial satisfaction of a liability owed” by ‘Person A’ to the solicitor.
Neither the third party nor Person A were clients of the firm at the time of, or in relation, to the payment, and Mr Sekhon admitted that the liability was “in respect of matters which did not form the basis of the solicitor/client relationship or instruction”.
Mr Sekhon then transferred the money into the firm’s client account and made smaller payments out from it to settle his own personal liabilities
The solicitor admitted paying money into client account without any instructions or underlying transaction, in breach of the accounts rules.
The SRA said the maximum financial penalty was “the appropriate outcome” because Mr Sekhon was no longer practising as a partner with control of a client account, he co-operated with the SRA’s investigation, and the breach was serious but “protection of the public/public interest in this case does not require a greater sanction than the SRA is able to impose”.
Mr Sekhon will also pay SRA costs of £12,450.
In another regulatory settlement agreement, the SRA has rebuked Rhiannon Jade Compton, a solicitor at north Wales firm Bennett Smith, after she pleaded guilty to drink-driving.
A court disqualified her from driving for a year and fined her £280.