Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Money laundering laws ‘don't apply to crooked lawyers’ as Law Society allows solicitors who banked in tax havens for mystery clients to keep jobs

Law Society of ScotlandUnfit regulator : Law Society allows solicitors who flouted money laundering laws to keep jobs. DESPITE widespread public anger & concern over companies, individuals, criminals, and even some politicians who bank in tax havens around the world to escape paying their fair share of tax, revelations in the SUNDAY MAIL newspaper last weekend apparently show the flouting of money laundering laws have little effect within the legal profession as the paper revealed two solicitors, George Morton and Malcolm Thomson who worked for the Marshall Wilson Law Group in Falkirk escaped with a fine while still being able to work, while members of the public charged with a violation of money laundering laws but without the protection of a self regulating body such as the Law Society might have faced court, a custodial sentence and even the loss of their jobs.

No press release has been issued by the Law Society of Scotland or the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) other than the findings on their website in this case, available here : Law Society v Malcolm Welsh Thomson and George Raymond Morton. The full SSDT finding is available HERE (pdf)

ssdtSSDT found solicitors guilty of breaking money laundering laws but still allowed them to keep their jobs. The Scottish Solicitor Discipline Tribunal’s determination stated : “The Tribunal having considered the Complaint dated 7 October 2009 at the instance of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Malcolm Welsh Thomson, Solicitor, Marshall Wilson Law Group Limited, 2 High Street, Falkirk (hereinafter referred to as “the First Respondent”) and George Raymond Morton, Solicitor, formerly of Marshall Wilson Law Group Limited, 2 High Street, Falkirk and now of Morton Pacitti LLP, 5 Newmarket Street, Falkirk (hereinafter referred to as “the Second Respondent”); Find the First Respondent guilty of Professional Misconduct in cumulo in respect of his several breaches of the Solicitors (Scotland) Accounts, Etc Rules 2001, namely Rule 6 regarding the operation of client accounts, Rule 8 regarding keeping properly written up books and accounts, Rule 10 regarding the reconciliation of client funds, Rule 11 regarding the payment of interest on un-invested balances and Rule 22 which prohibits the firm acting for the lender to one of the solicitors in the firm; Find the Second Respondent guilty of Professional Misconduct in cumulo in respect of his several breaches of Rule 24 of the said Rules in relation to his failure to comply with the requirements of the Money Laundering Regulations; Censure the First Respondent and Fine him in the sum of £7,500 to be forfeit to Her Majesty; Censure the Second Respondent and Fine him in the sum of £7,500 to be forfeit to Her Majesty; Find the Respondents jointly and severally liable in the expenses of the Complainers and of the Tribunal including expenses of the Clerk, chargeable on a time and line basis as the same may be taxed by the Auditor of the Court of Session on an agent and client, client paying basis in terms of Chapter Three of the last published Law Society’s Table of Fees for general business with a unit rate of £14.00; and Direct that publicity will be given to this decision and that this publicity will include the names of both Respondents.”

Now over to the Sunday Mail for their report on the case :

money2Lawyers fined after banking £1.43m for mystery clients offshore - with no questions asked

Dec 5 2010 Exclusive by Russell Findlay and Lauren Crooks, Sunday Mail

LAWYERS in a High Street firm have been fined for flouting rules meant to stop money laundering. But George Morton and Malcolm Thomson escaped with their jobs.

Legal watchdogs found that Morton, 58, "completely ignored" procedures put in place to stop criminals laundering dirty money. He continued to do so for over a year despite warnings from Law Society of Scotland investigators. They discovered £1.43million of payments made without proper background checks. Some were in cash and some were for unidentified clients in Jersey and the Virgin Islands.

Thomson, 45, was found guilty of five counts of professional misconduct over breaches in accounting rules.

The pair, who worked for Marshall Wilson Law Group in Falkirk, were each fined £7500 by the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal after they struck a deal which saw some charges dropped. Thomson was named as the firm's money laundering reporting officer in 2005 - but now admits he is "not a suitable person" for the role.

He was first warned about "serious concerns" after a Law Society accounts check in 2005. Inspections over the next three years raised more fears about money laundering.

In 2007, it was found that the firm "did not disclose money laundering checks on four companies and two people" for payments of £1.43million. Officials were told money laundering could be taking place but Morton, who was responsible for the transactions, did not know the source of the funds.

The SSDT found that his failures to comply with the rules were "very serious" and that he had completely ignored them for a "considerable period of time". The SSDT found "the breaches of the accounts rules which went to the very heart of the accounting system got worse rather than better during the three-year period".

Lawyer Jim Reid, who prosecuted the pair, said: "There was no suggestion that money laundering was taking place but lack of documentation left the firm open to money laundering activities."

Thomson still works at Marshall Wilson. Morton has joined another Falkirk firm, Morton Pacitti. Thomson declined to comment while Morton was unavailable.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unfit regulator : Law Society allows solicitors who flouted money laundering laws to keep jobs. THE LAW SOCIETY ARE CRIMINALS, THAT IS THE REALITY.

Anonymous said...

Believe me there are plenty Bernie Madoffs working in the legal profession!

Anonymous said...

"The pair, who worked for Marshall Wilson Law Group in Falkirk, were each fined £7500 by the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal after they struck a deal which saw some charges dropped. Thomson was named as the firm's money laundering reporting officer in 2005 - but now admits he is "not a suitable person" for the role. "

So let me get this straight.The Crown Office and Police just sit on their arses doing nothing while the law is broken and those who did it make a deal,get fined and carry on like nothing has happened ?

Why no criminal prosecution ?

Were they handling money for someone so high up in the establishment it couldnt come out at a trial so it had to be this crooked SSDT rubbish ?

Anonymous said...

"Mystery clients" being gangsters,killers,drug dealers,colleagues etc ?

Anonymous said...

You are right Peter - if any ordinary person had done this and been found out they would have been charged and ended up in jail yet the lawyers get off the hook again because the Law Society and their crony infested discipline tribunal say its ok and issue a small fine.Unbelievable.

How does that "Big Society" of David Cameron sound now?
Sounds more like a "Crooked Society" to me!

Anonymous said...

How can there be "mystery clients" ??
Why have these people not been named or referred to the Crown Office and HMRC for investigation ?

Anonymous said...

"Were they handling money for someone so high up in the establishment it couldnt come out at a trial so it had to be this crooked SSDT rubbish ?"

I'm beginning to think this myself.Surely there should now be a criminal investigation into the solicitors and their law firm.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Believe me there are plenty Bernie Madoffs working in the legal profession!

7 December 2010 15:18

Yes spread equally between Edinburgh & Glasgow and most of them either solicitors or doing business with them!

Anonymous said...

I don't think its appropriate to allow lawyers convicted of flouting money laundering laws to remain in their jobs!

How would customers feel about dealing with bank tellers who steal from their accounts?

I wouldn't go anywhere near them OR their firms.

Anonymous said...

I have a good idea who the clients are although for your sake I will contact the paper instead as they are a bad bunch

Anonymous said...

Well that judgement or whatever it is from the ssdt is a complete waste of space and the sooner complaints against solicitors or the acts they commit are CRIMINALISED the better.

Those who money launder should be in jail along with their assets seized.Isnt this what Angiolini and her pals usually ram down our throats with their speeches (as long as its not lawyers of course doing it)

Anonymous said...

Hello Peter, anyone who reads your blog from overseas must know that fairness with regard to legal matters is a sham in Scotland.

I know two people who have dealt with the Law Society years ago and they got nowhere. lf justice was applied based on wrongdoing you would have nothing to report. But justice is a poisoned chalice for the Law Society: that is why they are criminals because in the client lawyer relationship the Law Society are Masters of Difference.

This is the reason poor legal service is the norm, birds of a feather flock together.

Anonymous said...

I think the Law Society need their little cover up chambers such as the SSDT taken away from them.

Anonymous said...

I bet George Morton and Malcolm Thomson wont be telling any of their clients what they've been up to much like Valerie Penny/Macadam forgot to mention on her will writing website!

Anonymous said...

What we desperately need is an online register of lawyers who have been 'disciplined' - as they do in England and Wales.

The Law Society of Scotland will never do so voluntarily of course so another multiple petition might be a start.

Anonymous said...

It appears there are no laws which apply to crooked lawyers in Scotland - they can get away with what they want and still no one is charged or sent to jail.
The Law Society and its glove puppet the SSDT should be scrapped.

Anonymous said...

The Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal is nothing but a sham.I made a complaint against my lawyer which ended up at the SSDT and they refused to allow me in.In the end he was let off with a slap on the wrist just like all the rest.

If you want justice you have to take it for yourself and go around these bastards who protect money launderers and perverts just because they have law degrees.

Anonymous said...

I cant get my head around why these lawyers are not in a court facing jail time?

Is this Law Society so powerful even the Police there in Scotland have to bow to it?

Anonymous said...

I worry about you Mr Cherbi considering all these news reports about wikileaks and they have now jailed Mr Assange Maybe the lawyers will try to do the same to you or even murder you after all your writing of their corruption

Anonymous said...

Can someone please explain to me why these lawyers arent in a jail cell along with those who let them keep their jobs?

Anonymous said...

errm I just downloaded the SSDT findings in pdf format and I think you need to quote a lot more from it because its seriously criminal what was going on!

Anonymous said...

How can we have faith in a justice system like this?

Anonymous said...

It just seems so wrong anyone found guilty of money laundering on that scale doesnt get a prison sentence - especially someone like a lawyer who is supposed to provide justice to the public

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I worry about you Mr Cherbi considering all these news reports about wikileaks and they have now jailed Mr Assange Maybe the lawyers will try to do the same to you or even murder you after all your writing of their corruption.

They better not harm Mr Cherbi although I have no doubt they are capable of murder.

Anonymous said...

The Law Society are not regulators, they are gangsters. Only the mob would get away with this criminality.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight.The Crown Office and Police just sit on their arses doing nothing while the law is broken and those who did it make a deal,get fined and carry on like nothing has happened ?

Why no criminal prosecution ?


IT IS CALLED FAVOURITISM.

Anonymous said...

Lawyers treat clients the way you would want to be treated.

Anonymous said...

Without doubt the SSDT should be scrapped along with the Law Society if all it does is allow bent lawyers back to work!

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 7 December 2010 23:06

I will, thanks for reminding me ...

# Anonymous @ 7 December 2010 20:37

I doubt they will ...

# Anonymous @ 7 December 2010 15:37

A good point .. there should of course be a criminal investigation if money laundering laws have been broken ...

# Anonymous @ 7 December 2010 18:49

Yes .. but as we all know political based speeches are just for show rather than action ...

# Anonymous @ 7 December 2010 21:33

I agree ...

# Anonymous @ 7 December 2010 22:27

I've been through what Julian Assange is now going through during the 1990's when the Scotsman covered my own story involving the Law Society.

I can assure you what they and the solicitors & accountant who ruined my late father's will did to myself and my family was nothing short of evil and as in the Wikileaks case, the law ended up being used as a weapon against me .. unsuccessfully I may add ...

# Anonymous @ 7 December 2010 22:15

The problem appears to be more with the Crown Office than the Police ... I've written articles previously which indicate a marked reluctance to prosecute members of the legal profession for criminality ...

# Anonymous @ 7 December 2010 21:51

If you'd like to send me details of your case I can publish it or send it onto colleagues in the media ...

Anonymous said...

I can assure you what they and the solicitors & accountant who ruined my late father's will did to myself and my family was nothing short of evil and as in the Wikileaks case, the law ended up being used as a weapon against me .. unsuccessfully I may add ...
===================================
Hi Peter, I totally agree with your comment here, Evil is the word. These lawyers are bad bad evil human beings. My family too have suffered, that is why we want to warn others what they are up against. Self regulation Peter is simply a way of hiding corruption. I have no doubt they would kill clients to save lawyers. They are devoid of values and decency.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you had a rough ride from 'the authorities' over your quest against the Law Society

I'd say its evidence enough of collusion which we should all stand up to and fight against

Peter Cherbi said...

# Anonymous @ 9 December 2010 00:56

I agree .. there is no honest, no truth, no humanity at all in the world of self regulation .. at least as far as I have been able to establish or have experienced since having to deal with the Law Society in the past twenty years ...

# Anonymous @ 9 December 2010 12:38

I agree ... the way in which the Law Society and its members dishonestly use the law as a weapon against members of the public who are put in a position of having to complain against a solicitor, must come to an end.