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Solicitor agrees to leave profession over property sale irregularities

SRA: Tribunal referral to be overturned

A solicitor involved in property transactions where due diligence on clients and funds was severely lacking has agreed to leave the profession rather than face a disciplinary tribunal.

Daniel Gidon Zysblat has been rebuked by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and undertaken to remove his name from the roll and never apply for readmission to it.

The SRA said its 2017 decision to refer him to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) would be overturned once Mr Zysblat did so.

According to a regulatory settlement agreement published yesterday, he worked as a consultant at Hertfordshire firm Rexton Law from October 2012 until March 2015, at which point he was suspended from practice for two years by the SDT for unrelated matters at a previous firm. He has not practised since.

Soon after, the SRA identified irregularities in conveyancing matters Mr Zysblat had handled at Rexton.

In five cases exemplified by the regulator, there were no client-care letters, costs information or due diligence on file, failures Mr Zysblat accepted.

The firm subsequently provided some due diligence which was held centrally but it was incomplete.

The SRA found also that third parties – both individuals and entities – had paid funds into the firm’s client bank account to buy properties, again without any due diligence on file about their source or any explanations as to why the purchases were funded by third parties.

In two of the transactions, the price of the property being sold increased significantly within a short space of time, without any explanation, while Mr Zysblat appeared to have worked for the buyer, seller and other parties.

“The conduct of these separate transactions had been recorded on the same client matter files and client ledger accounts,” the SRA noted.

There were 26 matters in which the firm had acted on property sales where the proceeds, totalling £2.3m, were paid to a woman who was not the owner and had been in an individual voluntary arrangement since March 2013. Again, there was no explanation on file for why the transactions were structured like this.

Mr Zysblat did not provide the SRA with “sufficient explanations” for the issues that were found.

He also admitted accepting instructions to act on another matter where there was a conflict, or significant risk of one, with an existing client.

The agreement said: “When considering the appropriate sanctions and undertakings in this matter, the SRA has taken into account the admissions made by Mr Zysblat, the fact that he was suspended from practice by the SDT on 20 March 2015 and the fact that he has not held a practising certificate since that time.

“Provided that Mr Zysblat promptly discharges his undertaking to remove himself from the roll and adheres to his undertaking never to apply for readmission, the SRA considers that a rebuke is the appropriate outcome here because the admitted conduct was serious but not so serious that sanction by the tribunal is necessary or proportionate in order to maintain professional standards and to uphold public confidence in the solicitors’ profession.”

Mr Zysblat is to pay the SRA costs of £10,725, with both parties agreeing he could pay in instalments of at least £50 per month.