Solicitor struck off for lying about links with illegal money lender

SDT: Significant number of untrue statements

A solicitor who lied to both his employer and his regulator by denying he had any kind of relationship with a convicted illegal money lender has been struck off.

Malcolm Richard Glynn admitted being dishonest on three separate occasions and had made at least 10 statements that he knew to be untrue, according to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

Mr Glynn, who qualified in 2004, was working at Progression Solicitors in Cumbria at the time of his involvement with Craig LaPenna, a Manchester businessman who lent large sums in business loans to 30 friends, businesses and associates.

Mr LaPenna was convicted in March 2019 of illegal money lending and money laundering offences but avoided a prison sentence after his counsel, Chris Daw KC, successfully argued that without his financial aid, many of the businesses would have been forced to declare bankruptcy after mainstream lenders had turned them down.

Mr Glynn worked on three loan matters that it turned out involved Mr LaPenna, two of which predated his conviction, while the other continued for three months afterwards

Once the firm became aware of Mr LaPenna’s involvement in November 2019, he told the firm a series of lies, including that he did not know who Mr LaPenna was until he was referred to a newspaper article and found out about his conviction, had not been dealing with Mr LaPenna after learning of the conviction, and that he did not know if there was any connection between Mr LaPenna and the clients.

After a report to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Mr Glynn’s representative told the regulator in March 2020 that he had never had any relationship with Mr LaPenna.

All of this was untrue – the firm found “extensive email correspondence” between Mr LaPenna and Mr Glynn throughout one of the matters that was not on file, and they had met at Progression’s Windermere office a month before the conviction.

It was Mr LaPenna who gave Mr Glynn the contact details for one client – he claimed it was another solicitor at the firm.

He admitted the allegations but argued that there were exceptional circumstances that meant the usual sanction in cases of dishonesty – a strike-off – should not apply here.

The conduct did not continue over a very long period of time, it had no adverse effect on others and this was not a case where there was any financial loss to anyone or gain to Mr Glynn, he submitted.

He explained in mitigation how he had worked for 14 years to qualify as a solicitor at the age of 36, and since leaving Progression had been working a deputy head of service at Blackpool Borough Council’s legal services department. His employer was aware of the allegations and was fully supportive of him.

Mr Glynn said Mr LaPenna had been a pre-existing client of the firm and was known previously to others in the firm, while the response to the SRA had been unclear and that “it was a personal relationship/friendship that he was refuting”.

In deciding to strike him off, the SDT said Mr Glynn “had been motivated by his desire to conceal the relationship he had with Mr LaPenna and his involvement in the matter”.

Whilst he had not breached a trust, “it found that he had breached the position of trust placed in him”.

The SDT continued: “Mr Glynn had admitted that he had been dishonest on three separate occasions and had made at least 10 statements that he knew to be untrue. The tribunal found that his conduct had been deliberate, calculated and repeated.

“Whilst this had been over a relatively short period of time, the number of dishonest statements made by him was significant. Whilst he had not sought to conceal any documents, he had sought to conceal the true position from both the SRA and the firm.”

The mitigation was “not sufficient to establish that this was a case where exceptional circumstances existed”.

He was also ordered to pay costs of £17,000.

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