A solicitor jailed for conspiracy to commit property frauds has now been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).
The SDT told Hashok Parmar, who said in a statement from prison that he would maintain his innocence “until my demise”, that public trust in the profession was “shattered” when solicitors engaged in serious criminal activity.
Mr Parmar, principal of Sterling Law (later known as Kings Law Solicitors) in Loughborough, was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud to the value of £3m and one of conspiracy to convert criminal property of £240,000 at Leicester Crown Court in March 2020.
He and his practice manager, Syed Gous Ali, were each jailed for six years for what Leicestershire police called an “elaborate fraud” to dupe a potential house buyer.
The pair attempted to sell properties in London that were not on sale but rented out by the owners, known as a “take-over fraud” – that is, a property is taken over by fraudulently changing the property deeds/titles or by persons purporting to be the owner.
Mr Parmar then conspired to convert criminal property by moving the proceeds of the fraudulent property transactions “through diverse bank accounts” and into cash.
The SDT said that, while most of the frauds were unsuccessful, one of them was not, resulting in the loss of £240,000.
The tribunal said Mr Parmar had rejected the chance of taking part in his disciplinary hearing by video link from prison.
The solicitor, who qualified in 1992, said in his statement that he did not seek to go behind the convictions.
The SDT recorded: “However, he had proceeded to advance arguments which would have amounted to defences to the allegations, had they been accepted by the jury. This included blaming his co-defendant for taking advantage of his good nature.”
Mr Parmar also said he had “throughout this matter maintained my innocence and I will until my demise, despite being convicted”, having set out a detailed account of his version of events.
The tribunal found that he had acted dishonestly in each of his criminal convictions in “a gross breach of trust by an experienced solicitor” and no mitigating factors could be identified.
“The trust the public placed in the profession was shattered when a solicitor engaged in serious criminal activity, particularly in the course of his work.”
The SDT went on: “Insofar as the attempted frauds were unsuccessful, this was due to the good judgment of others and did not detract from the fact that serious harm was foreseeable and intended. The damage to the reputation of the profession was therefore very high.
“In addition, the tribunal noted that Mr Parmar’s conduct was deliberate, planned, repeated and continued over a period of time. It involved an abuse of position and concealment of wrongdoing. Mr Parmar had contested the matter at trial and had not made admissions.”
The tribunal said the sole practitioner was suspended for 18 months in February 2017, after admitting a series of rule breaches, including failing to supervise the head of operations at Sterling Law, who misappropriated almost £60,000 from the firm’s client account.
On costs, Mr Parmar said he was “of limited means due to being in prison, not owning any properties and not having any bank accounts” and he “considered himself bankrupt due to having a number of creditors”.
However, the tribunal said there was no evidence he was officially bankrupt. He was struck off and ordered to pay costs of £3,600.