Some client money that Sadeeq didn't steal.
A trainee solicitor has been jailed for stealing more than £100,000 in client compensation, to fund a gambling habit.
Tauseef Sadeeq worked at Bolton-based PI firm Jacob Miller solicitors as a paralegal before becoming a trainee in 2020.
However, just as his career was starting, Sadeeq took a light-fingered approach to the firm's accounts. Over a 12-month period, he directed insurance payments totalling £100,437 to his own account, as well as another £2k from the firm, according to a report by Legal Futures. Sadeeq used the money to cover losses he'd made gambling.
The trainee was rumbled in March 2021 when the account's department queried a couple of payments. Sadeeq initially tried to cover his tracks claiming the payments had been authorised by mistake, and provided fake payment forms to the office manager. However, the firm promptly dismissed him and reported itself to the SRA.
In August 2021, the SRA placed a section 43 Order on Sadeeq, banning him from working in the legal profession without permission.
Sadeeq has now stood trial at the crown court. Jacob Miller director Hasib Khan told the court that the firm had already suffered "crippling losses" due to the pandemic, and Sadeeq's theft resulted in eight staff (a third of employees) being made redundant.
Khan described the fraud as being "particularly unsophisticated," and that Sadeeq was "always going to be caught."
Colin Buckle, prosecuting, commented on the reputational damage to the firm, as Khan noted a "number of clients" had "removed their business and instructed new solicitors" when they became aware of the incident. He added that obtaining new business had also "been difficult" due to the impact on the firm's reputation.
Sadeeq’s barrister, Oliver Jarvis, said that his client was "deeply ashamed" and "remorseful" and had "no excuses for his appalling criminality".
“He realises he has damaged the reputation of the firm, has thrown away his career which he had spent time working so hard to build and very nearly qualified and he has ripped his own family apart," said Jarvis. “He was gambling daily, and was getting into debt and took the money from the company out of desperation to cover his losses. These offences were completely out of character and driven by this appalling addiction."
Judge Martin Walsh sentenced Sadeeq to two years in jail, saying that it was "a concerted fraud, calculated and unsophisticated, but pursued over a period of time."
The consequences "were considerable", said the judge, "not only was there a fiscal loss, but the firm also suffered reputational damage.”