Dodgy Solicitor struck off twice
16 June 2017
A lawyer has demonstrated sensational commitment to winning a place in the Dodgy Solicitor pack by getting struck off twice.
RollOnFriday did not exist in 1993 when Naresh Chopra was first thrown off the Roll following his High Court conviction for contempt of court and destruction of documents in an alleged mortgage fraud. But patience is a virtue, and after 24 years Chopra has been struck off again.
The SRA grudgingly restored Chopra's practising certificate with conditions in 2004, and by 2013 he was managing two firms, Illford-based Nationwide and Dagenham firm Lillywhite Williams. But keeping the two jobs separate proved difficult. In the latest and presumably last appearance of Chopra before the SDT, it found that on at least nine occasions he led lenders to believe that their instructions were being handled by Lillywhite, which was on their panels, when in fact they were carried out by staff at Nationwide, which was not. The SRA said it was "inconceivable
" Chopra could have believed that his behaviour was legitimate.
||"All you need is persistence, kids."
Chopra said that he owned both Nationwide and Lillywhite, "so the two firms were practically one and the same
", but he accepted that they were "technically separate as a matter of law
". Asked why a Lillywhite lawyer was found using a Nationwide email address, he said she was a trainee and had "given him an explanation
" although he "could not remember what that explanation was
". His defence said he was "out of his depth
Chopra also allowed his firms to act as escrow accounts for dodgy diamond and artwork brokers, charging them £200 or more on each deal to hold their money, with the exact fee "negotiable on the the size of the diamond
". The SRA accused him of lending the firms' credibility to 45 "dubious
" transactions which were of the type "notoriously associated with fraud
". Chopra escaped being found dishonest in relation to the gems, but was struck off (again) after being found to have dishonestly misled mortgage brokers. He is the first solicitor to be struck off twice for different offences since SRA records began. Chopra was ordered to pay £66,000 costs, a small price to pay for his long overdue induction into the Dodgy Solicitor hall of fame.