Not quite the corner office he had in mind
An ex-partner at legacy firm Pitmans has been jailed for defrauding the firm and HMRC of £2.3 million.
Andrew Davies, who was head of commercial property at Pitmans, stole money from the firm from 2010 to 2017. His light-fingered approach involved at least 227 improper withdrawals, including paying personal invoices to himself from the business, which he masked by writing abbreviations in the "payable to" field.
Davies also raised invoices, described as "fees", to pay a friend and client, Stephen Allan, which totalled over £1.16 million. Allan would then drip-feed payments to Davies’ personal account, and also kept around £400,000 for himself.
On top of this, Davies also cheated the government by under-declaring stamp duty owed to HMRC, and over-declaring stamp-duty to clients; he pocketed the £1.1m difference for himself, over a period of nine years.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal struck Davies off in March 2021, but publication of the judgment was withheld until recently, when proceedings against Allan finished.
The court has jailed Davies for four years for his fraud. The former partner said he was sorry for his behaviour and said he had let his family, firm and profession down.
BDB Pitmans’ insurer, QBE, has paid £2.5m to the firm to cover known and unknown losses, with any excess to be returned.
“In this case a solicitor who was trusted to safeguard client funds, abused this position and systematically defrauded his firm of large sums of money for his own benefit," said Detective Constable Katie Taylor of Thames Valley Police’s Economic Crime Unit. “Fraud and money laundering on this scale is serious crime and can have devastating effects on the victims.”
“Close-working between HMRC investigators and Thames Valley Police has brought two criminals to justice," said a spokesman for HMRC. “Andrew Davies abused his position to defraud HMRC of £1.1 million over a nine-year period, money that should have been used to support our vital public services."
BDB Pitmans declined to comment.